Zuckerberg faces €20,000 fine over Facebook's anonymous accounts ban

Zuckerberg faces €20,000 fine over Facebook's anonymous accounts ban

Summary: Data protection authorities in one German state have threatened the fine if Facebook does not allow Germans to use the site without providing their real names.

TOPICS: Privacy, Legal, EU

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is facing a €20,000 fine over the social networking site's failure to offer German users anonymous accounts.

According to The Guardian, the data protection commissioner of the German state of Schleswig-Holstein has written to Zuckerberg and to Facebook Ireland threatening the fine if Facebook continues to ban anonymous accounts. According to the data protection authority, forcing users to provide their real identities is a breach of German law, under which the country's citizens have the right to use online media services anonymously.

"It is unacceptable that a US portal like Facebook violates German data protection law, unopposed and with no prospect of an end," The Guardian quotes the state's data protection commissioner, Thilo Weichert, as saying.

Schleswig-Holstein's data protection watchdog, known as the ULD, took the social networking site to task last year over the right to anonymity, demanding in December that Facebook allow the use of pseudonymous accounts, saying its refusal to do so contravened the German Telemedia Act.

"It is the role of individual services to determine their own policies about anonymity within the governing law for Facebook Ireland, European data protection and Irish law. We believe the orders are without merit, a waste of German taxpayers' money and we will fight it vigorously," a Facebook spokesman said today.

Facebook also attracted the ire of the ULD in 2011 when the watchdog ordered all institutions in the state to shut down their Facebook fan pages and remove plug-ins such as the 'Like' button from their websites over what it viewed as the site's excessive monitoring of its users.

Topics: Privacy, Legal, EU

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  • How?

    How would they know if I am making up my name?
    Susan Antony
  • They don't

    I have one real and plenty of totally fake facebook accounts. However, you are not allowed to use any real nicknames as for example you cannot use numbers in your alias. Also you are forced to have both a first and second name.
  • What's social about anonymous?

    What is the point is trying to use Facebook anonymously? The entire concept of its use is to socially interact with other humans via web communications. If you want to be anonymous, just don't use Facebook. It's not a human right to be able to register with Facebook! If this breaks your laws, don't use it. I could just imagine how boring an anonymous users profile would look, and image the photos they share....ooh another snow scene with nothing in it ;-)
    David R Thomas
    • Ideology

      @ David R Thomas... if all the world thought as you do, the internet would indeed be the safe, fun, enlightening and inspirational place it should be. To be as naive as you are, Sir, leaves you with "your pants on the ground." Don't forget the world has more sinners than saints.
      Papaw Long
  • Spammer and creeps

    So in the real world it's working out to be the German Government being annoyed that people can't have a number to go along with a fully possible fake name. Oh yes, there are people out there who use multiple accounts for the purpose of running riot over other peoples groups, gaining page likes, bullying, being weirdo creeps etc etc. Otherwise it's a pretty cool network.

    https://www.facebook.com/rogerandre.uk Link up if you like.
    roger andre
  • A watchdog group that orders people to do something?

    I hope that is just poor wording.
  • How do they know that I am not the real Orson Wells?

  • bad all around

    I'm no facebook fan, but haven't those bureaucrats heard of fake identities like Mikey Mouse, Barack Obama, e.t.c.
    LlNUX Geek
  • Let me check this out

    € 20k is what Zuckerberg earns in about 1min. Guess that's fair.