Here’s the story. Last December, the ULD (Unabhängiges Landeszentrum für Datenschutz, or Independent Regional Center for Data Protection) launched an injunction against Facebook. The ULD, which is an independent organization that strives for Internet privacy, lodged the court ruling against Facebook because of the fact that Facebook requires users to sign up using real names.
What happens when Facebook users use pseudonyms? Well, most of the time, nothing at all happens. Case in point: the recent statistics Facebook itself published that tells the staggering number of fake Facebook accounts. On the off-chance that Facebook decides to take action against a fake profile, the offending account is locked down until such time that the user decides to present legal documents verifying his or her identity. That process is what got ULD in an uproar, as they said that actions such as those are against Germany’s privacy laws.
Fast forward and here we are, the German courts has announced their decision, and it is a Facebook win. Facebook will still be able to request that true names be given as mandated by German law.
The deciding factor of the court is the one that is raising eyebrows though. The court decided to award Facebook the win just because of the fact that the European Facebook offices are based on Ireland, a place obviously not under the jurisdiction of German law. Thilo Weichert, head of the ULD and Schleswig-Holstein’s state representative for privacy thus made a perplexed statement.
“The court’s decision is beyond jaw-dropping. The court contradicts itself by finding that Facebook does not fall under German law just because none of its data is processed in Germany while in the same sentence telling people that Irish law is applicable – even if there is also no data processed there.”
The ULD is fuming over the outcome and has already made plans to appeal the decision to the Higher Administrative Court of Schleswig-Holstein.
What do you think of this debacle? Should pseudonyms be banned or accepted by Facebook? Do you feel comfortable using your true identity in cyber space? Tell us your thoughts below.