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Facebook must allow pseudonyms in Germany

Staff writer |
A data protection authority in Hamburg, Germany has ordered Facebook to allow its German users to employ names of their choosing, because to do otherwise would violate their right to privacy, as Reuters reports.

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The regulator ruled in favor of a woman who lodged a complaint against Facebook after she was blocked from the site for using a pseudonym, Jay Barmann writes for

Facebook requested an official ID from her and then "unilaterally changed her username into her real name." She wanted to keep her pseudonym so that people she worked with could not easily look her up, a reason that many Americans also use fake names, or their middle names in place of last names.

Johannes Caspar, of the Hamburg Data Protection Authority, issued a statement saying, "Anyone who stands on our pitch also has to play our game. The arbitrary change of the user name blatantly violates privacy rights."

Facebook said they were disappointed with the decision, claiming that German courts had previously backed them and their "real names" or "authentic names" policy.

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