Facebook has won a court battle against a German privacy watchdog that challenged the social networking site’s policy requiring users to register with their real names.
Schleswig-Holstein state’s data protection body said on Friday (local time) it will appeal the court decision. It argues the ban on fake names breaches German privacy laws and European rules designed to protect free speech online.
The administrative court in northern German Schleswig argued in its ruling on Thursday that German privacy laws weren’t applicable because Facebook has its European headquarters in Ireland – which has less far-reaching rules.
The California-based company argues its real name policy protects users.
Germany’s strict privacy rules have posed a legal headache for Facebook, Google and others in recent years, giving consumers significant rights to limit the way companies use their information.
According to Facebook’s name policy, “Facebook is a community where people use their real identities. We require everyone to provide their real names, so you always know who you’re connecting with.” As a result, users are not permitted to craft MySpace-esque names with symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, repeating characters, or punctuation.
Using real names means people know who they’re connecting with, which “helps keep our community safe,” Facebook said.