Facebook ordered to allow pseudonyms by German court

A German privacy watchdog has instructed Facebook to allow users to take out accounts under aliases. Germany has been after Facebook for a long time in regard to privacy issues.

Johannes Caspar, Hamburg's data regulator, expressed concern back in 2010 that the site was storing data of third parties who hadn't signed up for Facebook. However, for the purpose of marketing, the details had been added to the site by friends.

Also in 2010, German consumer protection groups suggested that Facebook do a U-turn on privacy and take in a policy of asking users to opt-in every time it wanted to pass personal data to other firms, instead of an opt-out policy. Facebook users were even advised to quit the site unless it was prepared to provide more protection for the privacy of its members.

According to Caspar, if Facebook wants to play in Germany, it has to play by the country's laws. Facebook is disappointed that the name policy is being revisited after winning disputes over the issue. “The use of authentic names on Facebook protects people's privacy and safety by ensuring people know who they're sharing and connecting with,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Bloomberg News mentions that the order from Caspar is based on a complaint from user Jemmaroid von Laalaa who wanted to prevent her private account from being used by people contacting her about business.