The Hamburg data protection authority is confronting Facebook on its ‘real name policy and telling the social media site that it can’t demand its users to provide them with a photo ID.

The German regulator said that this violates the right to privacy and in a statement (click here to read, in German) could not force users to send them copies of their official identification papers nor could it force them to change their chosen names to real names.

These real name rules have been making things very hard for people who for one reason or another prefer to use a name that is not their official one or one not recognised by Facebook.
Artists, transgender men and women, American natives, people hiding from abusive relationshiips and of course those of us with a virtual identity.

Many of us at one time or another have had our profiles deleted by Facebook because we weren’t real enough.
But Facebook is just too good for running and managing communities, staying in touch, organising events, etc.
So we keep coming back.

Right now Facebook can lock your account and force you to identify yourself and change your name, or your account will be deleted.

Technically, according to Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information;

The requirement to use a real name violates the rights, enshrined in German law, to use a pseudonym, while requests for digital copies of an official photo ID also contradict the passport and ID card law and the unauthorised modification of the pseudonym … blatantly violated the right to informational self-determination and constitutes a deliberate infringement of the Data Protection Act.

This is very interesting for people who like to use Facebook but not share their real life identity with everyone.
Who knows this will finally allow us to create and keep profiles for our avatars.
Even if it means pretending we’re all German citizens 🙂

If Facebook made special”pseudonym” profiles that look, act and feel the same as regular ones but are somehow clearly marked as belonging not to an identified person, everybody would be happy.

You can read more about this in the Guardian newspaper article here.