A court in Germany has ruled that Facebook is violating the country’s data protection laws with several privacy settings that require users to provide their personal data and real names.

Under German law, providers of on-line services must allow users to remain anonymous and that personal information can only be recorded or used by a company with explicit agreement from the individual.

Judges in the Berlin state court on Monday ruled in a suit brought by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZVB) that Facebook’s “real name” clause was in breach of the country’s regulation and “illegal.

 

The judges ruled that all five of the default settings on Facebook that VZVB complained about are invalid. Some of Facebook’s terms of use were found to be illegal, including sharing location data with chat partners or making profiles available to external search engines.

Facebook, which counts more than 2 billion users worldwide, already faces scrutiny from Germany’s competition authorities over handling of its users’ personal data.

Facebook said it would appeal the Monday court ruling, adding that many of its terms of service had changed since the suit was first brought in 2015.

Germany is a major market for Facebook in Europe, with around 30 million of the country’s 80-million strong population signed up and almost 23 million using the network every day.

Deutsche Welle / AA Magnum News 2018.

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