Germany Forbade Facebook to Demand Real Names from UsersAdded: Thursday, July 30th, 2015
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German regulator told Facebook to allow users to use pseudonyms, because the company’s “real name” policy violates the right to privacy. Facebook therefore cannot force people to submit their official ID like passport or unilaterally change their chosen names to their “real” names on the website.
Facebook’s “real name” policy limits people to one account each and requires to hold them under their real name. As a result, Facebook often blocks accounts with suspected pseudonyms until the owner can prove their name. German commissioner for data protection and freedom of information claimed that such policy contradicts with national legislation, namely the passport and ID card law. Besides, Facebook’s unauthorized modification of the pseudonym violated the right to informational self-determination.
It is widely known that the social network has repeatedly clashed with European data regulators, claiming that it would only listen to the decisions of the Irish data protection office, because Facebook’s EU headquarters are based in Dublin. For example, last month, when the Belgian privacy commission took the social network to court over user tracking, Facebook claimed that it could only be worked with “via a dialogue at Facebook Ireland and with the Irish data protection commissioner”.
German regulator was quick to pre-emptively reject such argument, pointing out that back in 2014, the European Court of Justice blocked similar position with case-law related to Google’s search engine. This seems logical: Facebook has economic activity in Germany with its branch in Hamburg and therefore must comply with the local law.
In fact, the company’s real name policy has long been one of the most controversial rules on the website. For instance, a few months ago, Facebook was accused of discrimination by a number of Native American activists, whose accounts were suspended or names changed to match European norms. It appeared in news again in June after Zip, a trans former Facebook employee was required to “prove” her name on the site – the name printed on her name badge while she worked for Facebook. She pointed out that people like her are not ready to reveal their own names for obvious reasons.
Thursday, July 30th, 2015No comments
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