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

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.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

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.

Editorial standards