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back to article Facebook: 'No merit' to claim we broke German privacy law

Facebook has hit back at a watchdog that claimed the website broke German law by requiring users to reveal their real names. The independent privacy protection agency ULD in Kiel, north Germany, yesterday ordered an end to the social network's policy on real names. But a Facebook spokeswoman today told The Register: "It is the …

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How would they know?

If you call yourself "The Immortal Khan" - okay, it's a giveaway. If you call yourself John Smith, however? Or, as I did for one account, my middle name and the translation of my surname? Or, given that under Scots law it's legal to take any name that you regularly use as your legal name, with no form filling, a new one every six months?

In the end though, Zuckerberg and his lawyers can, and probably will, say that Facebook is voluntary, and if you don't like the rules, get out of hte social medium. And he does have a point.

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Re: How would they know?

"In the end though, Zuckerberg and his lawyers can, and probably will, say that Facebook is voluntary, and if you don't like the rules, get out of hte social medium. And he does have a point."

Perhaps it's just wishful thinking that he does say that, and that everyone takes him up on the offer?

Anyway, G+ has the same problem. That and the desperate attempts to make it so you need a G+ account in order to fart, is a real reason to hit Google. Not this shit with newspapers and linking to search engines.

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Re: How would they know?

Just because use of something online is 'voluntary' does not mean it can break the law.

Use of various child abuse websites are voluntary and yet I doubt many would argue it should be a case of "If you dont like it dont use it"...

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Re: How would they know?

Good luck trying to take your account down as you try to leave...

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Re: How would they know?

Are you saying it'd be more difficult to remove one's account if one had used anything other than one's real name when setting it up. If so, I call bullshit.

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Anonymous Coward

"The Immortal Khan"... was actually called Smith

Well, kind-of. The actual name of the person who took the title "Chinggis Khan" was Temujin, which means "ironworker".

I guess that *does* make it a bit of a giveaway.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How would they know?

@DF118

Not bullshit. As follows...

You can only delete an account if you can log on to it (i.e. if it is not suspended).

You cannot logon to a suspended account - therefore you cannot delete a suspended account

The only way to unsuspend an account they have suspended as being 'fake' is to submit ID (which you can't do for a false names).

Therefore if they suspend a fake account (as they did with me) you cannot get it deleted.

Even if you e-mail them confessing to breaking their policy and assuring them that the account is a fake name. They will still NOT delete it.

I know - happened to me.

Luckily I have several other fake named accounts to use.

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Re: How would they know?

Yes but you still have to follow the law if the land.

Do you think you would get away with nudity on a beach in Saudi because it happens to be legal on a beach in Germany?

Is it ok to gamble on the Internet while living in New York when the site is hosted in the UK?

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Facepalm

@AC 18:55 Re: How would they know?

Good point, hadn't considered that. So what sort of ID do they ask for? Just wondering whether it's feasible to arm myself with fake ID for when/if it happens to me. Arseholes.

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Trollface

Re: How would they know?

Do you think you would get away with nudity on a beach in Saudi because it happens to be legal on a beach in Germany?

I'm not sure, but I recent events suggest you can get away with it scot free if you claim to have Aspberger's Syndrome.

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Under UK law you are allowed to go by a pseudonym, as long as you maintain documentation of your real name.

(this used to be true and I assume this is still the case)

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Anonymous Coward

What do you mean by "maintain documentation of your real name"?

What do you mean by "real name", for that matter?

As far as I know there is no law in the UK saying you can't call yourself whatever you like. However, there is also no "right" to call yourself what you like so you can't expect the passport office and other government departments to be particularly cooperative. Since there is no standard identity card it's quite easy to end up with different names on your passport, bank account, etc, but it causes plenty of practical difficulties if you overuse that option.

If the government can't solve the problem the work-around would be for everyone to have the same official name, Sam Smith, say, and use that name in all their dealings with bureaucrats while using something more distinctive in their social and business dealings. Eventually the government would produce forms with a field labelled "Name (if not Sam Smith)" ...

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> Under UK law you are allowed to go by a pseudonym, as long as you maintain documentation of your real name.

As I understand it, legally it is (or was) the other way around. The name that you are known by is your "real" name. Changing your name by deed poll is a recognition that you are already known by that name, and allows you to update your official documentation.

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Anonymous Coward

fail ...

in the UK you can do whatever you like, unless it's prohibited in law. More people should think that way. Don't ask "am I allowed" ask "am I prevented".

It's a subtle, but crucial difference ....

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i am not a man i am a complex number

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Paris Hilton

@ NomNomNom -

>

i am not a man i am a complex number

<

shouldn't that be:

i am not a man, i is an complex imaginary number

?

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Solution : If you don't want to use your real name don't use face book.

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Anonymous Coward

So your passport says 'chronigan' does it?

Perhaps as you don't want to use your real name you think you shouldn't post comments on el reg either.

Fool.

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I don't see the problem

None of my multiple Facebook accounts use my real name, 'cos *I* am not on Facebook - I need accounts to test Facebook functionality for clients. I just use 'plausible' names when I set them up.

If you really want to have a 'real' FB account then set one up under a different name and then tell any real friends (who you want to have access) what alias you're using so they can send a friend request - but the stalkers/employers/teachers/colleagues can't find you.

And I believe the law in the UK is still that you can use any name you like so long as there is no intent to defraud.

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Anonymous Coward

Force all anonymous facebook users to use iMaps. They will all be dead in a few months and problem solved.

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Anonymous Coward

Incorrect assertion IMHO

Facebook pushes for the use of real names on its social network and attempts to flush out anonymous users. This is partly for security reasons and partly to discourage trolling and such hobbies.

Sorry, I call BS here. It's only to make the data they collect more valuable.

If security had anything to do with it they would allow aliases, and put at least some effort into making sure people did not put so much dangerous data on their "service".

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Thumb Up

Re: Incorrect assertion IMHO

Amazing. I had to read this far down the page to get this. Have an upvote.

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Meh

Real names are pretty irrelevant ...

Facebook/G+ don't give a toss who you are. They do care about who you know though. Because that's how they can slice and dice their data for the marketing guys.

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Re: Real names are pretty irrelevant ...

Well, if they gave a toss about who you know, and who knows you, then they would embrace aliases and nicknames. Plenty of people I know online are better (and often exclusively) known by their alias; and would be close to anonymous under their real name (and therefore nearly worthless as marketing data).

Then there the funny bit about what actually constitutes real names; I know quite a few whose official name was deemed fake by G+ and/or farcebook. And that's not even taking into account that names are apparently only acceptable if they conform to US standard; registration forms can't deal with prefixes (like 'von der'), double surnames (quite common in Spain) and short surnames like Ng almost universally are flagged fake too.

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Anonymous Coward

IANAL, but

Deed poll... Changes the name on your birth certificate, which you may or may not wish to do.

Whereas a "Statutory Notification" [IIRC] can be drawn up by your solicitor and allows you to hold a passport/driving licence in a name other than that on your birth certificate - as my step-children did

I am not me, I'm him

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Re: IANAL, but

IANAL either, but I'm pretty sure your birth certificate remains unaltered, except in very rare cases, regardless of the route you take to change your present name.

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Trollface

Re: IANAL, but

Well if I was changing my name for a farcebook account I'd follow Michael Howerd's lead

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Anonymous Coward

free-content advertising network

content-free advertising network

There, fixed.

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"Luckily I have several other fake named accounts to use."

I think you meant to say "Unfortunately I have several other fake named accounts to use."

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