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Germany

Facebook's Undoing? Legal Battle Demands Right To Anonymous Accounts

European law may require right to anonymity. Will Zuckerberg's ad-based business model "crumble"?

DIE WELT (Germany)

Worldcrunch

BERLIN – A registered letter from the German city of Kiel may already have arrived at 1601 South California Avenue in Palo Alto, California.

Written by German data protection advocate Thilo Weichert and addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, the letter says that the Facebook founder faces a 20,000 euro penalty if in the next two weeks he doesn’t make it possible for Germans to open anonymous accounts on the social network, according to Die Welt.

Zuckerberg is not expected to comply. But he is expected to put his lawyers on to what is a potential game-changer for the Internet giant. Weichert’s position is that Facebook’s entire capital value is based on a model that violates German and European data protection laws.

For Facebook, the issue of verified user identities is existential because they are needed for targeted marketing that, Weichert says, is the company’s bread and butter. "The reasons that Facebook gives for demanding real names are a pretext." Facebook needs the real identities simply to make money from advertising, Weichert concludes.

However German telecommunications legislation, under which Facebook falls, specifies that service providers must give users the option of using their services anonymously or with a pseudonym.

Weichert believes that if suits in Germany and Europe are successful "then the Facebook business model will crumble."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

And If It Had Been Zelensky? How The War Became Bigger Than Any One Person

Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrsky was killed Wednesday in a helicopter crash. The cause is still unknown, but the high-profile victim could just have well been President Zelensky instead. It raises the question of whether there are indispensable figures on either side in a war of this nature?

Photo of ​Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky looking down in a cemetery in Lviv on Jan. 11

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Lviv on Jan. 11

Anna Akage

-Analysis-

The news came at 8 a.m., local time: a helicopter had crashed in Brovary, near Kyiv, with all the top management of Ukraine's Ministry of Internal Affairs on board, including Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky. There were no survivors.

Having come just days after a Russian missile killed dozens in a Dnipro apartment, the first thought of most Ukrainians was about the senseless loss of innocent life in this brutal war inflicted on Ukraine. Indeed, it occurred near a kindergarten and at least one of the dozens killed was a small child.

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But there was also another kind of reaction to this tragedy, since the victims this time included the country's top official for domestic security. For Ukrainians (and others) have been wondering — regardless of whether or not the crash was an accident — if instead of Interior Minister Monastyrsky, it had been President Volodymyr Zelensky in that helicopter. What then?

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