German court says Facebook's real name policy is illegal

16 February, 2018, 04:21 | Author: Cecelia Webb
  • Pic Reuters

Facebook has said that it will appeal the decision.

The Berlin regional court also ruled that eight of the clauses in the company's user agreement were far too broad to meet the legal requirements for consent.

A German consumer advocacy group has scored a win against Facebook over the way it uses consumer data.

The court said Facebook's default settings break the law: its mobile app automatically has users sharing their location, and users' profiles are by default findable through search engines.

VZBV said the court upheld its complaint that Facebook's default settings meant it hadn't gotten the adequate permissions from consumers to access their data.

"Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy centre and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register", states Litigation Policy Officer, Heiko Duenkel.

A German court has ruled that Facebook can't force users to reveal their real names and the social networking giant's real name policy is illegal. Additionally, the court held that Facebook needed to obtain explicit consent from its members before using their names and profile pictures in com mercialand sponsored materials.

By not adequately securing the informed consent of its users, Facebook's use of personal data is illegal - and so is the social network's "real-name" clause, as the German Telemedia Act says that providers of online services must allow users to use their services anonymously or by using a pseudonym.

The verdict by a Berlin regional court was handed down in mid-January, and the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZVB) disclosed it on Monday.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has already made promises to be more transparent about political advertising, but it seems that in this case it fell short of its own standards. We work hard to ensure that our policies are clear and easy to understand, and that all aspects of the Facebook Service are in compliance with applicable law.

The unanimous ruling marked the first decision by New York's Court of Appeals pertaining to the discovery of Facebook content.

Vzbv also plans to appeal because some of its other allegations were rejected.

The group also sought to argue that Facebook's claim that its service is "free and always will be" is misleading, on the grounds that consumers are "paying" with their data.



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