Facebook wins European court battle over right to fake names

Facebook has secured a win in Germany’s courts, where it’s been defending itself against a lawsuit brought by ULD which is a state-sponsored but independent organization which aims to protect the privacy of internet users.

In December last year, the ULD was able to get an injunction against Facebook, the first step in forcing the social network to allow its users to use pseudonyms rather than their real names.

The social network requires new sign-ups to enter personal information, including their real name. Should the user opt to use a pseudonym when signing up, Facebook may lock down their account at a later date and only grant access to the account if they can provide legal identification documents.

The administrative court of Schleswig-Holstein has now published a ruling in favour of Facebook, allowing it to mandate real names. The court based its decision on the fact that Facebook’s offices in Europe are based in Ireland. For that reason, Germany’s privacy laws don’t apply, making Facebook’s objection to the lawsuit permissable in the court’s eyes.

The ULD is not going to accept the ruling and has already announce to appeal the decision at the next higher court, the Higher Administrative Court of Schleswig-Holstein.