German Court Sides With Facebook Policy Of Requiring Users’ Real Names

By David Cohen 

Facebook’s good fortune in courtrooms extended overseas, as the administrative court for the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein sided with the social network and suspended the enforcement of an order that it allow users to register under pseudonyms.

The state’s data-protection commissioner, Thilo Weichert, threatened last month to fine Facebook £16,000 ($24,822) if it refused to abolish its policy of requiring users to sign up with their real names.

According to Bloomberg, the court said in a statement on its website that Weichert’s order is likely illegal, adding:

The regulator wrongfully based its order on German data protection law. Irish data protection law exclusively applies.

Facebook handles the user data from its European headquarters in Ireland.

Bloomberg reported that Weichert intends to appeal the court’s ruling, saying in a statement on the website for ULD Schleswig-Holstein, the office of the data protection commissioner in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, that German law clearly backs his order, and that companies should not be allowed to withdraw to a European Union country with a “low data-protection standard.”

A Facebook spokesperson said in an email to TechCrunch:

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.

Readers: Do you think the appeal by Weichert stands a chance?

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