Turkish minister sued after showcasing gov’t facial recognition app
Turkey’s minister of interior is facing a data privacy lawsuit after going on air to show off a state-developed mobile app with facial recognition capable of identifying each resident of the country.
The complaint against Minister Süleyman Soylu was filed to the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office last week by the Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD). The group requested an investigation for “illegally providing or obtaining data” and an arrest warrant, BIA News Service reports.
Soylu showcased the app named KIM (“who” in English) during a video interview on YouTube with Shiftdelete.net, an online culture publisher in Turkey. In the video, Soygu is seen taking a photo of the show’s host Hakki Alkan with the KIM app. In a matter of seconds, the software displays Alkan’s full name and several headshots.
During the show, the minister also stated that he had learned the name of a woman and examined the data of a woman after taking her photo in a television studio.
İçişleri Bakanı Sayın Süleyman Soylu ile sohbet videosu, yoğun ilgiden dolayı YouTube Türkiye trendlerine girdi 🔥 Samimi sohbetin yanı sıra, aşağıda izleyeceğiniz uygulama, sanıyorum Türkiye'de ilk kez bu videoda paylaşıldı. Yapay zeka, birkaç saniye içinde beni tanıdı. pic.twitter.com/c1FGyaxsfI
— Hakkı Alkan (@hakki_alkan) May 7, 2023
Soylu is a controversial figure in Turkey: As a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP), he is known for his hard-line approach toward political opposition. The lawsuit comes after a tumultuous month that concluded with an election victory for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday.
The Progressive Lawyers Association said that authorities generally process personal data for reasons such as public order and public safety. However, regardless of whether the data is processed by public authorities or other entities, they must comply with the limitations outlined by relevant regulations, they added.
According to the Turkish Penal Code, a person who illegally provides, disseminates, or obtains personal data from another person will be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of two to four years. If the offense is committed by a public official through the abuse of the powers, the punishment is increased by half.