IP Addresses: Are they personal info?

22 Jan

From Ars technica:Could IP addresses soon be considered “personal information” in Europe? The question was discussed yesterday at a hearing before the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee, where European data protection authorities and privacy advocates backed the idea. Google, not surprisingly, wasn’t as thrilled.

Giving legal protection to IP addresses poses a host of problems for companies like Google that log massive amounts of data and want to know which machines it comes from. IP address tracking can help the company crackdown on click fraud, for instance, and it can help Google identify the general geographical location of many of its visitors.

But IP addresses don’t match up with people, only machines, making them at best quasi-personal. As Google’s Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer told the Committee (PDF), “There is no black or white answer: sometimes an IP address can be considered as personal data and sometimes not; it depends on the context, and which personal information it reveals.”  http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080122-ip-addresses-could-become-personal-information-in-europe.html


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