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Germans must abide by Facebook’s real name policy

Facebook wins on appeal
Thu Apr 25 2013, 10:33
Image of Facebook logo and login screen

GERMAN FACEBOOK USERS must use their real names on the social network Facebook.

In February a court ruled that users in Germany must register on the website with their real names, a position that the country's privacy authorities opposed.

Yesterday a state appeals court upheld the proposition that German privacy laws don't apply to Facebook, and ruled that the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ULD) for the German state of Schleswig-Holstein has to accept that.

The ULD had been challenging the real name rule since it was announced, and in a statement it accepted the latest court decision.

The court said that because Facebook's servers are not in Germany, it does not have to conform to German laws.

Facebook hasn't commented yet on this latest turn of events, but when it won its first victory it was pleased with the decision.

"We are pleased with the decision of the Administrative Court of Appeals of Schleswig-Holstein," said a spokesperson.

"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."

The decision means that Facebook can continue to ban users that do not use their real names on the website.

Before the ULD appealed ULD chief Thilo Weichert called the initial court decision "amazing".

"The decisions are more than amazing," he said. "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." µ


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