Facebook has won a court challenge against its real names policy in Germany. Yesterday an administrative court in the North of Germany granted Facebook’s request for “suspensive effect” against a ruling, made by Schleswig-Holstein’s Data Protection Commissioner, that Facebook’s real names policy was violating German and European law. The court ruled that German data protection laws aren’t applicable because Facebook has its European headquarters in Ireland — meaning only (the less stringent) Irish data protection laws apply.
Back in December the German data protection body in question, the ULD (Unabhaengiges Landeszentrum fuer Datenschutz), issued a ruling against Facebook’s real-name policy, arguing that it erodes online freedoms and calling for the site to allow the use of pseudonyms. The ULD said it had received complaints from citizens about Facebook’s policy. It said its aim was to seek clarification of Facebook’s legal position in regards to European data protection law — and its intention was to pursue a “regular lawsuit” against the company.
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