Facebook loses battle over users’ fake names in Germany

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Has Been Told to Allow Fake Names.

Brussels – Facebook may not prevent its users from using fake names, a German privacy watchdog said on Tuesday, in the latest privacy setback for the US company in Europe.So it seems that Facebook asked the woman for a copy of her ID and, afterwards, changed the pseudonym she had inputted for her account to her real name.The matter of privacy is of paramount importance on the internet and, recently, Facebook has been told to allow fake names by a German company, situated in Hamburg. The Hamburg data protection authority, which is responsible for policing Facebook in Germany, said the social network firm could not unilaterally change users’ chosen usernames to their real names, nor could it ask them for official ID.

The company, whose European headquarters are in Ireland, can’t argue it’s only subject to that country’s law, he said. “Anyone who stands on our pitch also has to play our game,” said Caspar. “The arbitrary change of the user name blatantly violates” privacy rights. After an incident with one of their own employees, they have made it clear that pseudonyms should be permitted on Facebook accounts, because otherwise it would be a violation of their right. This certain policy is said to prevent online harassment and support child safety. “The use of authentic names on Facebook protects people’s privacy and safety by ensuring people to know who they’re sharing and connecting with.” Johannes Caspar, Hamburg’s commissioner for data protection, stated that Facebook has to abide German law. The watchdog ordered Facebook not to unilaterally change users’ names to real ones as such a practice violates their privacy rights, the authority decided. Tuesday’s order is based on a complaint by a user who’d sought to prevent her private Facebook account from being used by people wishing to contact her about business matters.

Previously, in 2012, the data protection agency of the northernmost German state Schleswig-Holstein ordered Facebook to allow people to use pseudonyms. This helps keep our community safe.” Casper reported that, according to Germany’s Telemedia Act, the recipient and consumer of this service is to be informed of the indulgence that they may pay for this service either anonymously or by pseudonym, whenever possible. In an audit in December 2011 the Irish privacy watchdog concluded that Facebook’s authentic name policy did not contravene Irish law and its reasons for the policy, such as child safety and the prevention of online harassment, were justified. Caspar now argues that a ruling last year by Europe’s top court on Google Inc.’s search engine results changed the situation and allows him to regulate Facebook.

Facebook HQ in Europe is situated in Ireland; therefore the company’s stance is to comply solely with Irish laws, which, according to a 2011 audit, it does not violate. However, the social media giant has not remained mute and instead countered with their own argument that since their headquarters is located in Ireland, Irish law applies. The recent Hamburg order followed a similar incident, which took place in Belgium last month, where the local privacy watchdog filed a suit against Facebook for the way it tracks users’ activity. Verified email addresses: All users on Independent Media news sites are now required to have a verified email address before being allowed to comment on articles.

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