Facebook may pay a €20,000 ($26,000) fine unless it allows German citizens to create anonymous accounts on the social network. A state data protection agency said that Facebook’s refusal to allow pseudonyms on the site is a violation of German law.
“It is unacceptable that a US portal like Facebook violates German data protection law, unopposed and with no prospect of an end,” data protection commissioner for the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, Thilo Weicher, said in letters addressed to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Dublin-based Facebook Ireland Ltd.
German law states that all media services must offer users the ability to use a pseudonym wherever such an option is possible and reasonable.
An initial injunction was placed against Facebook in mid-December giving the company two weeks to change its policy.
Although the threat prompted Facebook to seek legal protection at an administrative court in Schleswig-Holstein, the site will likely not meet the agency's demand any time soon.
A Facebook spokesperson said the orders were without merit and a waste of German taxpayers’ money. He added that the company would fight the charges vigorously, the Guardian reported.
The company said in a statement that the pseudonym law is “not applicable to Facebook” and “infringes on higher ranking of European law.”
The site went on to say that it would still alter its privacy plan even if the law was applicable, because Facebook’s “real name culture” is part of its “mission of trust and security...”