Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Facebook Users Must Be Allowed To Use Pseudonyms, Says German Privacy Regulator; Real-Name Policy ‘Erodes Online Freedoms’

Here is the link to the full story.

Facebook’s thorny relationship with Europe and European lawmakers took another barb in the side yesterday as German’s Data Protection Commissioner issued a ruling that Facebook’s real-name policy violates a German Law.

The data protection body, called Unabhaengiges Landeszentrum fuer Datenschutz (ULD, which translates as the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner), said Facebook’s policy of mandating users of its social network use their real names, with no provision permitting “pseudonymous accounts”, violates the German Telemedia Act (TMG) — section 13, part 6 of which states

The service provider must enable the use of telemedia and payment for them to occur anonymously or via a pseudonym where this is technically possible and reasonable. The recipient of the service is to be informed about this possibility

The clause exists to protect Europeans’ “fundamental rights and in particular the fundamental right to freedom of expression on the Internet”, says the ULD, which also notes that the TMG is in line with wider European law. (Something Facebook has fallen afoul of before — or at least had to take steps to adjust its modus operandi, by turning off facial recognition in the EU this fall to help it through a privacy review conducted by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner.)

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