Technology Law: Turkey Amends the Rules Regarding Internet Domain Names

On April 20, 2021, Amending Regulation on Internet Domain Names (“Regulation”) has been promulgated, bringing new changes on the principles and procedures regarding internet domain names. While the Regulation sets new rules regarding the allocation process of internet domain names, it authorizes certain governmental bodies to conduct related transactions and auditing.

Accordingly, the registrar informs the domain name owner at least three months before the end of the domain name’s allocation period by electronic mail and requests the domain name owner to perform the renewal process. However, with the Regulation, the person intending to renew the allocation period of the domain name he/she owns, is able to initiate renewal process without having to comply with this three-months period.

The Regulation further stipulates that the domain name owner who wants to cease using the domain name allocated to him/her before the end of the allocation period, may renounce the domain name. Yet, it further emphasizes that in case of a renunciation of the domain name, the fee will not be refunded to the previous domain name owner. It is also explained that issues regarding re-allocation of the renounced domain name is determined by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority of Turkey (“ICTA”).

In addition to above, the Regulation extends the circumstances when cancelling a domain name allocation. Accordingly, the ICTA may cancel the relevant domain name allocation in case it is determined that the information and/or documents submitted during the application for sub-domain names allocated with a certificate, are not valid. The Regulation also authorizes the ICTA in certain matters including auditing registrars and dispute resolution service providers, imposing administrative sanctions, and terminating the activities of those registrars and dispute resolution service providers when deemed necessary. It also states that the ICTA may determine an upper limit on the number of dispute resolution service providers considering the market conditions of internet domain names and the number of disputes. On the other hand, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure will be authorized to implement the rules of this Regulation.

The Regulation also brings out new obligations to registrars. According to that, they are now obliged to fulfill as follows: (i) to keep the systems and backups integrated with TRABIS (“.tr Network Information System”) within the boundaries of the Republic of Turkey and (ii) to fulfill the requirements of the court decisions conveyed to it regarding domain name disputes and the awards or arbitration committee decisions regarding the domain names that are the subject of the dispute communicated by the dispute resolution service providers.

Finally, the Regulation stipulates that an application cannot be made to the alternative dispute resolution mechanism for the domain names that were allocated before TRABIS became operational. However, the dispute resolution mechanism can be applied for those domain names renewed after TRABIS became operational.

Ezgi Ceren Aydoğmuş