Turkey’s Parliament has approved Law No. 6563 on the Regulation of Electronic Commerce (Law) aimed at creating a more secure, transparent and accessible e-commerce environment. The Law is expected to come into force 1 May 2015.

The Law covers electronic communications, liabilities of service providers, contracts concluded electronically, and the information provided to consumers, as well as unsolicited electronic messages.

One of the key provisions under the Law requires service providers to: (a) clearly identify the terms of the contract and on whose behalf it is sent; (b) state the trade associations of which it is a member, the rules of conduct for the profession, and how the recipient may access these electronically; (c) give up-to-date and easy-to-access identifier information before a contract is concluded; and (d) state whether the concluded contract will be kept by the service provider and whether it will be accessible by the recipient and, if so, for how long. This information must be clearly communicated before and after the formation of the contract if such contract is entered into electronically.

The Law also hopes to put a stop to unsolicited SMS and email messages with the introduction of a new opt-in and opt-out regime. The opt-in system, also favoured by the EU, requires prior consent to be obtained by the individual consumers before any commercial electronic messages may be sent. The consent requirement does not apply to business-to-business marketing. Failure to comply could result in a penalty ranging from TL 1,000 to TL 5,000 (and up to 10 times the original fine for repeat offenders).

In introducing an opt-out system, the Law stipulated that recipients should be provided with the right to unsubscribe at any time to commercial electronic messages free of charge, and are not required to provide a reason in refusing further communication.

Turkey still lacks a comprehensive data protection law, but this new law takes the country a step closer to both providing transparency to consumers, and seeking to facilitate e-commerce.