Facebook’s real name policy has been challenged by a German regulator which ruled that the policy is violate of the right to privacy and urged the social networking site to allow people to use pseudonyms.
The Hamburg data protection authority said on Tuesday that the site could not force users to give official ID such as a passport or identity card, nor could it unilaterally change their chosen names to their “real” names on the site, The Guardian reported. As per its much-debated ‘real name’ policy, Facebook limits individuals to one account each and frequently suspends accounts with suspected pseudonyms until the owner can prove their name or the site changed the name to the real one.
“As in many other complaints against Facebook, this case demonstrates that the network wants to enforce the so-called real name policy with no regard to national legislation,” Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information Johannes Caspar was quoted as saying. He added that the requirement to use a real name violates the rights, enshrined in German law, to use a pseudonym, while requests for digital copies of an official photo ID also contradict the passport and ID card law.
He added that in addition “the unauthorized modification of the pseudonym blatantly violated the right to informational self-determination and constitutes a deliberate infringement of the Data Protection Act”. Facebook has repeatedly clashed with European data regulators, arguing that it should only be bound by the decisions of the Irish data protection office, since its European Union headquarters are based in that nation.