German regulator says Facebook can't force users to use real names
A German privacy watchdog has said that Facebook cannot force users to use their real name on the social networking website. In addition, the Hamburg data protection authority also said that the company cannot ask users to provide an official ID.
The order came in the wake of a recent incident, where-in Facebook blocked a German user's account for using a pseudonym. The user, in her complaint to the watchdog, also said that the company asked for a copy of her ID, and even changed her user-name to reflect her real identity.
The watchdog said that the complainant had valid reasons for not wanting to use her real name, adding that Facebook's action violated her privacy rights.
For its part, Facebook said that it's disappointed with the order. "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 company spokesperson. However, it was also quick to argue that it's European headquarters are in Ireland, and it would only abide by Irish law in the continent.
Rejecting the argument, the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection said, "For that matter Facebook cannot again argue that only Irish Data Protection law would be applicable ... anyone who stands on our pitch also has to play our game."