German regulators have asked Facebook to allow users to use fake names when creating their account. According to them, German users should not be forced to give their real names to create a profile and the social media is not entitled to request an ID.
The new imposition comes after Facebook was taken to court in relation to the allegations that it spies on the activity of its users.
A woman from Germany also filed a complaint that Facebook blocked her account because she was not using her real name. She also said that she was asked for and ID to have her identity checked before she could have her account activated again.
The reason why she used a fake name was that she didn’t want to be contacted for business matters, according to the Hamburg Data Protection Authority.
This has prompted other officials in France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium to start an investigation regarding the privacy policies of the social network.
Facebook representatives were disappointed about Germany’s request, as they believe “the use of authentic names on Facebook protects people’s privacy and safety by ensuring people know who they’re sharing and connecting with.”
The main reason for setting a policy that requires real names is that the company wants users to feel safe when they share information with other people. It is a way to avoid harassment online and protect people’s privacy.
The company’s headquarters for Europe are in Ireland. This means that the policy should be in compliance with the Irish law, while the jurisdiction of other European authorities is not allowed.
The Irish privacy watchdog decided that Facebook’s request on people giving their real names was perfectly legal and legitimate. They reached that conclusion during an audit that took place in December 2011.
In spite of that, the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection, Johannes Caspar pointed out that the giant media company can’t only abide to the Irish law:
“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,” he said on Tuesday.
Forcing users to do anything against their will, such as providing real names represents a violation of their privacy rights. This is why German authorities have ordered Facebook to allow users to use any names they want.
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