A data protection authority in Hamburg, Germany has ordered Facebook to allow its German users to employ names of their choosing, because to do otherwise would violate their right to privacy, as Reuters reports. The regulator ruled in favor of a woman who lodged a complaint against Facebook after she was blocked from the site for using a pseudonym. Facebook requested an official ID from her and then "unilaterally changed her username into her real name." She wanted to keep her pseudonym so that people she worked with could not easily look her up — a reason that many Americans also use fake names, or their middle names in place of last names.

Johannes Caspar, of the Hamburg Data Protection Authority, issued a statement saying, "Anyone who stands on our pitch also has to play our game. The arbitrary change of the user name blatantly violates privacy rights."

Facebook said they were disappointed with the decision, claiming that German courts had previously backed them and their "real names" or "authentic names" policy. This hubbub of course all goes back to a protest that began last year among San Francisco drag queens whose accounts were under threat by the company, even though they maintained that these accounts represented their "real" identity.

In Europe Facebook has repeatedly tried to argue that they're only subject to Irish law, because that is where Facebook's European headquarters are located.

Whether this German decision will have broader effects in Europe or here remains to be seen. As of June, the drag queens were still protesting, and no official policy change has occurred.

All previous coverage of Facebook on SFist.