Social networking company Facebook has fallen under fire from a German privacy defender about the social network’s real name policy.
Germany’s commissioner of data protection for the state of Schleswig-Holstein warned Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg around $25,700 USD in fines over its new policy.
Facebook has yet to announce any plan to lift the policy that prohibits German users from creating anonymous accounts on the world’s largest social networking site.
Commissioner Thilo Weichert is taking a firm stand that German law obliges media services and its providers, including social networking sites such as Facebook, to provide users the choice of creating an account with a pseudonym in place of their real name to protect user data.
Weichert said he will not accept Facebook’s violation of German laws on data protection are unacceptable to continue without opposition and without “prospect of an end.”
Facebook maintains that it will defend itself against the commissioner’s legal action.
Anonymity allows users to visit several areas on Facebook’s website without receiving any of the targeted advertisements that normally pops up during login, so the company – looking for more income-generating initiatives to make up for its financial losses – will vigorously try to protect itself against the ruling.
Most of Facebook’s revenue comes from paid ads from firms that use the social network for selling goods through targeted ads. Any ruling that will uphold anonymity for Facebook’s more than one billion users will limit the substantial sum of money it will generate from a country that will enforce local data protection laws.
Facebook told TechCrunch that individual services have the role to decide on their own policies regarding anonymity within a governing law, which applies to European data protection and Irish laws for Facebook Ireland – the division that handles all operations outside of North America.
Facebook added that the commissioner’s orders have no merit and an inefficient use of German taxpayers’ money.
Facebook and Germany had been caught up in a dispute before, with the social networking company dragging along the country’s privacy protectors.
In 2011, the northernmost of Germany’s 16 states, including Commissioner Weichert’s Schleswig-Holstein, carried out a ban that prohibited local companies and organizations from using Facebook’s “Like” button because, according to them, it permitted the site to monitor German users.
That same year Facebook came under fire from the data protection authority of Hamburg, which ruled that one of Facebook’s facial recognition features disregarded German privacy laws.