Facebook Vows to Fight Germany’s Online Anonymity Law

January 8th, 2013 at 1:31 am

The data protection commissioner in Schleswig-Holstein, a state in northern Germany, has threatened to fine Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg $26,000 for allegedly violating the country’s law regarding the anonymous use of media services. The Guardian reports that Thilo Weichert has informed Facebook’s European office in Ireland and Zuckerberg that he may be fined €20,000 for breaking Germany’s privacy law unless the social networking site would provide an option for Germans to use the service anonymously.

Facebook asks new users to put their real first and last names upon registration, as stated on Section 4 of its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Users are also not allowed to provide “any false personal information” on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Facebook is sticking to its guns, insisting that it is complying with a wider European data protection laws and the laws of Ireland where its European subsidiary is based. “We believe the orders are without merit, a waste of German taxpayers’ money and we will fight it vigorously,” the social networking company stated.

It would be interesting how this event would unfold, pitting European law against Germany’s. The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has stated that Facebook’s policy on the use of real names helps people manage their private information more securely.

You can say that Facebook has an option for using its services anonymously just by browsing on its site while logged out. You can check out Facebook profiles and pages, as well as its publicly-shared updates, but cannot comment on them.

But bowing down to Weichert’s interpretation of the German anonymity law could cause a domino effect where other more conservative countries would ask for the same. Also, allowing users to signup in Facebook using fake names might increase the instances of hate speech, spamming, and any other harmful activities.

Source: TechCrunch


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