Germany Fines Facebook $109,000 In Privacy Case, Rules In Site’s Favor On Blocking Pseudonyms

Eye Looking Through A KeyholeFacebook has had a few very eventful weeks in the country of Germany. First, the site was fined $109,000 by a German court for refusing to follow an order to inform users about how it was using their intellectual property.

“Facebook is persistently trying to evade consumer laws in Germany and Europe,” said Klaus Mueller, the head of the Federation of German Consumer Organizations. “Companies must implement judicial decisions and can’t simply sit them out.”

Then it was announced that the German federal competition authority is launching an antitrust investigation into the site’s data harvesting practices, questioning whether consumers are “sufficiently informed” about the type and extent of data that Facebook collects from them.

Finally, Facebook scored a rare legal win in the privacy-concerned European state when a Hamburg court ruled that Facebook may prevent its users from using fake names. A woman had complained to the Hamburg data protection authority that Facebook had blocked her account for using a pseudonym on the site, and had unilaterally changed her username to her real name. The watchdog group ruled last summer that Facebook couldn’t do that, and couldn’t ask users for identification, but the Hamburg Administrative Court disagreed.

If you ever feel like people don’t raise enough of a fuss about Facebook here in the U.S., rest assured: they’re more than making up for it overseas.