Facebook Ordered to Allow Pseudonyms in Germany

The site says it's in full compliance with EU laws

By on December 18th, 2012 14:23 GMT

One of the big things about Facebook, that don't seem so surprising nowadays, is that it requires real names. Up until Facebook, there was no big site that demanded real names and no one was able to pull it off. Now, it's quickly becoming the norm.

But Facebook may be hitting a snag, a bit late in the game granted, in Germany where regulators are now asking the site to remove the policy.

They believe users should be allowed to rely on pseudonyms and not be kicked out if they don't use their real names. German law requires services to allow people to use pseudonyms.

As such, the Unabhaengiges Landeszentrum fuer Datenschutz (ULD), the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Schleswig-Holstein, has ordered Facebook to comply with its request.

Facebook argues that it complies with European laws and that Facebook's Irish subsidiary is responsible for processing the data of users in the EU. It further argues that the Irish data protection agency agrees that Facebook operates lawfully.

Finally, it believes that even if the local German laws applied to the company, the real name policy is an integral part of the Facebook experience and it can't drop it.

However, the German data protection commissioner argues that the law under which it's pursuing Facebook applies to the site and that the law further complies with existing European regulations.

Further, it believes that Facebook's real name policy, which the site says promotes trust and security, isn't working as it doesn't prevent abuse or identity theft and that there are other ways of achieving those goals.

The ultimatum is pretty clear, though even if Facebook was to cave, it would only have to comply in the regions covered by the German law. For its part, Facebook has said it will fight the order "vigorously."

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