German regulator orders Facebook to allow pseudonyms

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Ordered by Hamburg Regulator to Allow Pseudonyms.

BRUSSELS: Facebook may not prevent its users from using fake names, a German privacy watchdog said, in the latest privacy setback for the US company in Europe. The German choose comes with the Belgian level of privacy regulator carried Facebook to legal procedure in June within the method it path the pursuits from the clients.

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.

A woman had complained to the Hamburg watchdog after Facebook blocked her account for using a pseudonym, requested a copy of her ID and unilaterally changed her username into her real name. “The use of authentic names on Facebook protects people’s privacy and safety by ensuring people know who they’re sharing and connecting with,” said a spokesperson for the company. 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. 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. Germany has now said that Facebook cannot arbitrarily switch accounts to a real name or block accounts that are not using their real name, since that violates German privacy laws.

The employee setting up the account may not want the company’s Facebook page associated with their personal profile, and the company may not want to relinquish control of its business page to an employee. Despite the controversy over its real name policy, Facebook insists that the policy is in place to help keep their network safe and easy to use, with people knowing the person they share information with is the person they think.

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