A recent court battle in Germany over the legality of Facebook's real name policy has temporarily halted. Facebook argued that they do not observe German privacy laws because their E.U. headquarters are in Ireland—the court agreed, at least for now.
For some time now legal experts in Germany and Facebook’s legal team have argued over the legality of forcing someone to use a real name on the mammoth social media site. Facebook argued that since their headquarters are in Ireland, German citizen’s rights to privacy, and particularly in regards to making people use real names on Facebook, do not apply.
Previously a lower German court ruled that Facebook could not legally force German citizens to use their real name. Thilo Weichert, who serves as the Privacy Commissioner and Head of ULD said in part, “It is unacceptable that a U.S. portal like Facebook violates German data protection law unopposed and with no prospect of an end.”
Soon thereafter an appeal in another German court said that Facebook did have the right to make the rule since it was basically a voluntary matter where no one person is forced to use Facebook. However, another court ruled in favor of the privacy laws yet again, seemingly keeping the legal battle going ad nauseam.
The final ruling from the administrative court in the northern German Schleswig stated that Germany’s privacy laws could not apply because Facebook headquartered themselves out of Ireland, which does not recognize those same privacy laws in regards to Internet usage.
Facebook feels that by making users abide by their real name policy, it helps to protect users from bullying, false identities set out to cause mischief and so forth. By allowing someone to use a pseudonym, according to Facebook, only means he or she are only pretending to be someone else for no genuine cause.
Very similar to Facebook, Google’s YouTube has also been slowly making their users post with their real names as associated with their Google + accounts. According to YouTube the reasoning was to help slow down people that habitually insult (aka, trolls or trolling) or write overly negative reply comments simply for the sport of it. The difference with YouTube is that there are not any obligatory contracts to abide by in regards to using one’s real name.