Facebook users are required to use real names and according to German Privacy Commissioner Thilo Weichert, not being allowed to use a pseudonym violates German law. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner which operates in Schleswig-Holstein, said that Facebook’s policy of requiring users to use a real name violates the German Telemedia Act.
Here is what the GTA says in section 13, part 6:
“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 is there to protect fundamental rights and freedom of expression on the internet. To give Facebook users the right to use a pseudonym, Thilo said that the real name requirement should be immediately abandoned.
Here is the full statement from the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner’s website:
“It is unacceptable that a U.S. portal like Facebook violates German data protection law unopposed and with no prospect of an end. The aim of the orders of ULD is to finally bring about a legal clarification of who is responsible for Facebook and to what this company is bound to. Actually, this should be in the interest of the company, too. In so far, we hope for a fact-based debate not aimed at delaying action. In view of the fact that Facebook currently is taking the opportunity from all its members to decide themselves about their own discoverability under their name, our initiative is more urgent than ever.”
The social network plans to fight back against the ruling and its belief that Facebook users should be required to use a real name.