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February 17, 2013

Facebook can ask users to furnish real names, German court rules

German watchdog argued that the ban on fake names violates German privacy laws and European rules intended to guard free speech online

By CBR Staff Writer

An administrative court in the Schleswig-Holstein state of Germany has ruled that Facebook can insist its users to use their real name while registering.

The court has dismissed an order from the Independent Regional Centre for Data Protection in Schleswig-Holstein (ULD) which insisted that the social network must allow users register under a pseudonym instead of real name.

ULD even threatened to levy a fine of $26,715 against Facebook for non-compliance, however the court ruled that the data protection agency has no right to order the social network to unblock accounts.

Schleswig-Holstein state’s data protection commissioner plans to appeal the court decision and argued that the ban on fake names violates German privacy laws and European rules intended to guard free speech online.

According to the Associated Press, Northern German Schleswig’s administrative court ruled that the German privacy laws were not applicable as Facebook has its European headquarters in Ireland which has less extensive rules.

Conversely, Facebook also argued that its real name policy is aimed at protecting users.

Facebook is one among other firms including Google, who have been facing legal battle due to Germany’s strict privacy rules that allow consumers to limit the way firms use their personal information.

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