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German state of Schleswig-Holstein orders Facebook to allow pseudonyms

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While some countries are insisting that web users hand over their real names, a German state has ordered Facebook to start letting people use fake handles online "immediately." The office of the Data Protection Commissioner in the state of Schleswig-Holstein said that Facebook's real name policy violates the German Telemedia Act and promised to fine the company $26,000 if it fails to allow pseudonyms within two weeks. The decree doesn't hold water in other German regions, but Schleswig-Holstein's commissioner said that colleagues elsewhere agree with the order, and that his state is being used a pilot to test the law. Facebook said it'll fight the order "vigorously," calling it "a waste of German taxpayer's money," and added that its policy already complies with European laws. We'll have to see whether this turns into yet another privacy tiff with the nation, or if it's just a lot of sturm & drang in a teapot.

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