Facebook Dealt A Blow In Europe's Privacy Case
European regulators have been scrutinizing Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB)'s privacy practices for months. The social media giant has been caught up in the bloc's digital market overhaul along with several other U.S. tech companies, including Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN).
Last week, Facebook appeared to have lost a battle regarding how much control users should have over their names on the social networking site after a woman complained about the site's policies.
Hamburg's privacy watchdog received a complaint from a woman earlier this year after she was forced to use her real name on her Facebook profile rather than a pseudonym. The woman, who wanted to protect her identity and keep people from contacting her for business matters via the site, said Facebook had requested a copy of her ID and then changed her name after blocking her account.
Ordered To Stop
The Hamburg Data Protection Authority sided with the woman and ordered Facebook to allow the use of pseudonyms on the site. That ruling stands in direct conflict with an earlier court's decision in Ireland, which found in 2011 that Irish law allowed the site to continue requiring users to provide their authentic names.
Why It Matters
Facebook says its authentic name policy is an important part of the site's safety features. Allowing people to use pseudonyms would mean that users could be tricked into sharing information with people who aren't who they say they are. The policy is in place to prevent harassment and promote child safety online.
Facebook issued a statement expressing disappointment with the German ruling and pointed to its compliance in Ireland as reason the policy should stand. Part of the reason Facebook is under scrutiny is that the company has been abiding by Irish laws and disregarding other EU regulations, as that's where the firm's European headquarters is located. However, some argue that the site must still abide by local laws in the countries it operates in.
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