Why Germans Will Be Allowed To Use False Names on Facebook, But You Won’t

29 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Anonymous on Facebook: Germany upholds right to use fake names.

Facebook has been banned from enforcing its ‘real names only’ policy in Germany, allowing customers to use false names and refuse to provide official ID. 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.

The ruling by the Hamburg data protection authority follows a complaint from a woman who had wanted to use a pseudonym to keep her business separate from her private life. The firm said in a statement that the courts have been here before and have found that what Facebook does is in local order. “We’re disappointed Facebook’s authentic name policy is being revisited, since German courts have reviewed it on multiple occasions and regulators have determined it fully complies with applicable European data protection law,” a spokesperson said. 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. Facebook’s enforcement of its policy, which limits individuals to one account each and requires that those accounts be held under their real name, frequently results in accounts with suspected pseudonyms being locked by the company until the owner can prove their name, or even just the name being changed back by Facebook.

The decision means a rejection of Facebook’s argument that, because its European headquarters is in Ireland, it only has to abide by Irish data protection laws (Ireland ruled the real-names policy legal in December 2011). Legal action in 2013 led to a court decision which found that German privacy laws don’t apply to Facebook, and that the Data Protection Commissioner for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein had to accept that. The case was taken up after a woman filed a complaint to the Hamburg watchdog, stating that Facebook blocked her account because she used a fake name, demanded her personal ID and then proceeded to change the account to her real name. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who uses the Twitter name @Finkd, said recently in a celebrity studded Q&A on the site that Facebook takes the need for real names very seriously, and that people do not fully understand the real name/pseudonym situation. “Real names are an important part of how our community works for a couple of reasons.

Facebook was upset with the decision. “The use of authentic names on Facebook protects people’s privacy and safety by ensuring people know who they’re sharing and connecting with,” Reuters quoted a spokesperson for the company as saying. 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.

The social network in 2013 was able to fend off an attack by another German regulator by convincing national courts that only the Irish authority has jurisdiction over the issue. 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’s real-name policy has been fraught with controversy, most seriously over the risk that it can put victims of domestic violence or other vulnerable people in danger.

It’s also come under fire from drag queens, who often use pseudonyms, and Native Americans, whose names often contain the names of animals or natural features that Facebook misidentifies as fakes. In February, the site was accused of discrimination after a number of Native American activists reported having their accounts suspended or names changed to match European norms.

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. Dana Lone Hill argued that: “Katy Perry’s Left Shark from her Super Bowl halftime show has a Facebook page and we have to prove who we are.” The policy hit the headlines again in June after Zip, a trans former Facebook employee who was instrumental in introducing the company’s custom gender feature, was required to “prove” her name to the company – the same name that had been on her name badge while she worked for Facebook. “We use names that don’t match our ID on Facebook for safety, or because we’re trans, or because we’re just straight up not known by our legal names,” Zip wrote. “Having chosen its policy, Facebook has to enforce it.

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