Facebook Under Pressure: German Watchdog Ordered to Allow Pseudonyms, Again

© Flickr / Master OSM 2011While sending a web link over Facebook Chat, a group of app developers noticed a curious amount of activity.
While sending a web link over Facebook Chat, a group of app developers noticed a curious amount of activity. - Sputnik International
A German data watchdog said Facebook cannot forbid its users from using imaginary names, a move that the Irish based company said it will not comply with.

The Hamburg-based data protection body announced Tuesday that Facebook cannot refuse the right to use pseudonyms by its users.

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The order came after a woman complained to the watchdog. She said her account was blocked for using a fake name, then she was requested to show a copy of her ID and her name was changed unilaterally to her real one after the ID was provided. The woman didn’t want to use her real name as she preferred not be contacted for business issues, the data protection authority reported.

The watchdog ordered Facebook not to unilaterally change users’ names to real ones as such a practice violates their privacy rights, the authority decided.

Previously, in 2012, the data protection agency of the northernmost German state Schleswig-Holstein ordered Facebook to allow people to use pseudonyms. It argued that the German law guarantees the "fundamental right to freedom of expression on the Internet" among other by allowing users to use imaginary names.  

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.

The company said it’s disappointed with the German data protection body’s decision and added that multiple German courts have already deemed the policy compliant with the EU legislation.

"The use of authentic names on Facebook protects people’s privacy and safety by ensuring people know who they’re sharing and connecting with," a spokesperson for the company told, as quoted saying by Bloomberg.

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.

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