Reflections on Turkish Personal Data Protection Law and Genetic Data in Focus Group Discussions

Creative Commons License

Özkan Ö., Şahinol M., AYDINOĞLU A. U., AYDIN SON Y.

NanoEthics, vol.16, no.3, pp.297-312, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 16 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11569-022-00431-0
  • Journal Name: NanoEthics
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, ABI/INFORM, Humanities Abstracts, INSPEC, Philosopher's Index
  • Page Numbers: pp.297-312
  • Keywords: Data protection, Data privacy, Genetic data, Turkish personal data protection law, Focus group, ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS, PRIVACY, CONFIDENTIALITY, TECHNOLOGY
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


© 2022, The Author(s).Since the 1970s and more rigorously since the 1990s, many countries have regulated data protection and privacy laws in order to ensure the safety and privacy of personal data. First, a comparison is made of different acts regarding genetic information that are in force in the EU, the USA, and China. In Turkey, changes were adopted only recently following intense debates. This study aims to explore the experts’ opinions on the regulations of the health information systems, data security, privacy, and confidentiality in Turkey, with a particular focus on genetic data, which is more sensitive than other health data as it is a permanent identifier that is inherited to next of kin and shared with other family members. Two focus groups with 18 experts and stakeholders were conducted, discussing topics such as central data collection, legalized data sharing, and the management of genetic information in health information systems. The article concludes that the new Turkish personal data protection law is problematic as the frame of collectible data is wide-ranging, and the exceptions are extensive. Specific laws or articles dedicated to genetic data that also overlook the dimension of discrimination based on genetic differences in Turkey should be taken into consideration. In broader terms, it is intended to put up for discussion that in addition to ethical aspects, economic aspects and legal aspects of health should be included in the discussion to be carried out within the framework of socio-political analyses with culture-specific approaches and cross-culture boundaries simultaneously.