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Turkish Watchdog to Gain Access to Personal Info of Streaming Services’ Users

Turkish regulator for television and radio broadcast will have access to personal information on subscribers of paid online streaming platforms, as part of a new directive, contested by the opposition calling the practice “North Korea-like digital profiling”, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

Expanding authority of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK), the new regulation grants the watchdog the right to access personal information of those who view internet broadcasts of paid media platforms, possibly including the content they are watching, according to Cumhuriyet.

Media providers licensed for internet broadcasting will be forced to turn in every information and document relating to their company structure, their shows, as well as their subscribers at the behest of RTUK.

The new rules are expected to affect Netflix and Amazon Prime, in addition to Turkish services such as BluTV, PuhuTV, Tivibu, Digiturk, D-Smart Go, Turkcell TV+, Vodafone TV, FilBox, which have millions of subscribers.

Some RTUK members that were elected on the ticket of main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) expressed objection to the directive. Ilhan Tasci, one of those members, said:

“What is the goal here? If the directive takes effect as it is, it means who is watching what and for how long is going to be profiled. This sort of information is private. It starts with your name, last name, continues with your address and then your preferences of watching and listening will be put on record. This is literally called digital profiling. This would make Turkey like North Korea.”

However, the directive was approved despite the objections.

The RTUK, which has the power of censoring content and fining TV channels, will now be able to censor internet streaming, as well.

Another change introduced with the new regulation is the requirement for TV channels to obtain an additional license in order to broadcast over internet.

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