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Court rules that Germans can't use fake names on Facebook

The social network wins battle against ULD
Fri Feb 15 2013, 12:36

SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook won a legal battle in court against a German privacy watchdog on Friday, which means that users in that country must register on the website with their real names.

Last year the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ULD) for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein ordered Facebook to end its real name policy in Germany and allow users to register with nicknames. However, Facebook stuck to its guns and fought the order, a move that paid off for the social network today.

On Friday the Administrative Court of Schleswig-Holstein ruled in Facebook's favour, despite the ULD's insistence that the website's privacy policy wasn't applicable in Germany because it has headquarters in Ireland and the US.

The court said that the ULD based its order on German law, which is not applicable in this case, so it reasoned that users in Germany must adhere to Facebook's real name policy.

The head of the ULD, Thilo Weichert, wasn't too pleased with the ruling. In a post he said, "The decisions are more than amazing.

"They are contradictory when they explain the lack of legal relevance of Facebook Germany so that there is no data would be processed at the same time but the company in Ireland to assume jurisdiction, although there is no data to be processed."

Luckily for Weichert, the ULD will be allowed to appeal the court's ruling, and has two weeks to do so.

Facebook, understandably, is pleased with the ruling. A spokesperson for the company told The INQUIRER, "We are pleased with the decision of the Administrative Court of Appeals of Schleswig-Holstein.

"We believe this is a step into the right direction. We hope that our critics will understand that it is the role of individual services to determine their own policies about anonymity within the governing law - for Facebook Ireland, European data protection and Irish law.

"We therefore feel affirmed that the orders are without merit." µ


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