Requirement to use a clear name on facebook invalid

Obligation to use clear name on facebook ineffective

Screenshot: tp

Requirement violates data protection law

In a ruling announced yesterday (but not yet legally binding) under the case number 16 o 341/15, the berlin regional court ruled that the requirement in facebook’s terms of use to create profiles exclusively with clear names and accurate data is invalid because it violates german data protection law (cf. Facebook: berlin regional court sees unlawful default settings).

The court thus confirms a common practice of users to shorten their names for data protection reasons or to create profiles with the names of pets and stuffed animals. Other clauses in the terms of use and data protection, against which the federation of german consumer organizations had filed a lawsuit, also did not stand up to the court’s scrutiny – including the default setting that allows the facebook app to inform other participants in a conversation of one’s location, and the one that automatically provides search engines with a link to one’s profile history.

Too hidden for conscious decision

The court argued that it was not clear whether users consciously opted for these settings. Heiko dunkel, a legal officer at the federation of german consumer organizations, said: "facebook hides privacy-unfriendly default settings in its privacy center without providing sufficient information about them during registration – this is not sufficient for an informed consent." also not sufficient for a valid consent is the pre-formulated consent that facebook may use and process the name and profile picture of a user "for commercial, sponsored or related content" use and process a user’s name and profile picture.

The claim "facebook is free" on the other hand, the social media company may continue to put up, even in its advertising. The federation of german consumer organizations had argued here that this claim was, strictly speaking, untrue, because users are, after all, using their data to pay for the services "pay" were. The judges, on the other hand, were of the opinion that the term "costs" should be interpreted narrowly and only includes what is billed and subsequently missing from the account, even if facebook turns the data into money in other ways.

To what extent the ruling will also affect the company’s subsidiary whatsapp, acquired by facebook in 2014, is still unclear. An inquiry by telepolis on this matter has so far remained unanswered. Whatsapp is considered even more problematic than its parent company in terms of data protection, because this mobile device software evaluates the address books of its (often underage) users and thus obtains not only the data of users, but also that of non-users who can do nothing about it – except perhaps to do without a phone.

At the end of january, facebook had redesigned its privacy settings and touted them as more manageable (cf. Facebook gestaltet einstellungen fur privatsphare und datenschutz neu). The measure is seen as preparation for the european general data protection regulation, which comes into force in may. A decision on the facebook button, which collects user data on third-party sites, is to be made shortly thereafter.

Another lawsuit continues in austria after the european court of justice ruled in january, after four years of deliberations on the condition, that privacy activist max schrems can sue in his home country, even if facebook has its eu headquarters in ireland. However, the ecj rejected a data protection class action lawsuit that the austrian also wanted to bring against facebook on behalf of other users (cf. Defeat for max schrems: ecj rejects class action against facebook).

Faz puts its foot in its mouth with criticism of too timid looseness

Another legal front the u.S. Company is currently fighting on is the new censorship obligations imposed by the netzdg on the german government. Here the frankfurter allgemeine zeitung (faz) facebook, "hate" too timidly, but put her foot in her mouth when social media users noticed that faz author andrea diener yesterday referred to former hessian prime minister roland koch as the "hessen hitler" "hessenhitler" titled.

German chancellor angela merkel was too timid in her video podcast of 3. The government announced on february 3 that the netzdg was correct and that it would not abolish it even with a new federal cabinet, but would at most adapt it slightly. If the spd base refuses her the approval of such a new cabinet, she wants to govern with a minority cabinet, as she said on sunday after a self-invitation in the zdf program berlin direct see through dear.

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