Trust Seal In E-Commerce
In recent months, an expectable development with a significant effect to Turkish e-commerce environment has occurred: The Communique on Trust Seal in Electronic Commerce ("Communique"), which regulates the minimum security and service standards to be met by the service providers and the intermediary service providers ("Providers") that are involved in e-commerce activities, for obtaining a trust seal for their e-commerce websites, as well as the rights and obligations of the trust seal providers ("TSP"), has entered into force on June 6, 2017.
The main purpose of the Communique, while introducing the trust seal is to ensure that the Providers that seek one reach certain standards and the disputes between the Providers and the consumers are resolved effectively. The trust seal is expected to improve security and reduce the number of privacy and service quality issues in e-commerce, which will lead to the increase in the sales volumes of the e-commerce websites having a trust seal. It is thusly aimed that a more trustworthy e-commerce environment is created. Therefore, although obtaining a trust seal is not mandatory for the Providers, there is no doubt that having one will create a competitive advantage.
Minimum Standards to Obtain and Retain a Trust Seal
The Providers who wish to obtain and retain a trust seal shall meet the following minimum standards.
Due to the nature of the e-commerce transactions, the Providers shall consider and comply with a broad range of regulations that may affect their e-commerce business. In this respect, the Communique requires the Providers, seeking a trust seal, to be in compliance particularly with the following laws and their secondary regulations.
In cases where the Provider fails to meet the minimum standards, its trust seal may (i) be suspended, if a correction is not made within a period of 15 (fifteen) days; and further (ii) be cancelled, if a correction is still not made within a period of 30 (thirty) days, subsequent to the suspension date. Yet, the trust seal may also be cancelled upon the Provider's request, cease of e-commerce or intermediacy operations. Providers, whose trust seals are cancelled may be prohibited from applying for trust seals for a specific period that differs based upon the ground of the cancellation.
Obtaining a Trust Seal
In order to obtain a trust seal, the Providers shall apply to a TSP, which is authorized by the Ministry of Customs and Trade ("Ministry") with a protocol. It should be noted that separate applications are required for each e-commerce website. As part of their applications, the Providers shall provide the documents evidencing that the application fee is paid and the minimum standards set forth under the Communique are met. Upon the application, the TSP conducts an examination regarding whether the minimum standards are met and prepares a report within a period of 30 (thirty) days. With this report the Provider is granted either (i) a trust seal, or (ii) (where the minimum standards are not met) a period of 30 (thirty) days for providing compliance with the minimum standards.
The granted trust seals are shown on the home page of the e-commerce media of the Providers. Additionally, Providers may publish trust seals on other pages.
Duties of the TSP
The Communique includes provisions for the operations of the TSP, as well. With the exception recognized for the entities that are located abroad and provide trust seal services, it is forbidden to provide trust seal services without the authorization of the Ministry, or otherwise to provide or use marks similar to trust seal. Other than that, the principal duties of the TSP are designated as follows: