Facebook is set to defend its naming policy against a German data protection body who has ordered the social media giant to let users use pseudonyms on the site. The policy is in breach of German law and European rules designed to protect free speech online according to data protection body Unabhaengiges Landeszentrum fuer Datenschutz (ULD) located in Schlesiwg-Holstein.
“It is unacceptable that a U.S. portal like Facebook violates German data protection law unopposed and with no prospect of an end.” said Thilo Weichert, commissioner of the ULD.
Facebook has long required users to register with their real names, but ULD has issued a decree demanding that Facebook does away with its naming policy and allow users to use pseudonyms. Facebook has responded that they will fight the degree “vigorously” and that it is a “waste of German taxpayers’ money”, claiming that its policy is there to protect its users.
Weichert has told The Associated Press that Facebook has two weeks to respond. If they fail to respond, his office can impose a maximum fine of €50,000 ($66,000) which could lead to more stringent regulations from other German and European privacy regulators.
“We have the right to prevent this data protection breach,” he said. “Theoretically we can order the website blocked, but that would be disproportionate.”