Facebook has won a court challenge in Germany that will see its real names policy upheld in the country.
Back in December, Germany’s data protection office Unabhaengiges Landeszentrum fuer Datenschutz (ULD) issued a ruling against Facebook’s real names policy, claiming that it infringed upon citizen’s rights to free speech and anonymity online. Facebook said that they would fight the ruling, which they have done – successfully.
On Thursday, an administrative court in Germany approved Facebook’s request to suspend the ruling that said Facebook’s real names policy violated German and EU law. The reason they gave was that Facebook was only beholden to Irish data protection laws, since their European offices are located there. Irish date law is much less severe than that of Germany.
Facebook’s real names policy state that:
Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way. Here are some commitments you make to us relating to registering and maintaining the security of your account: You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission, [and] you will not create more than one personal account.
It goes on to say that any account can be removed due to “use of a fake name” or “impersonation of a person or entity, or other misrepresentation of identity.”
Facebook has always claimed that its real names policy protects users and makes the network a much safer, better-functioning place. Germany isn’t the only place where we’ve seen the effects of this policy, but it is one of the few places who have fought against it, fervently, in court.
”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,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
The ULD isn’t giving up, however. In a statement, the group said that they have plans to appeal the decision to a higher court.[AP via TechCrunch]