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E.U. Regulator Says IP Addresses Are Personal Data 164

NewsCloud writes "Germany's data-protection commissioner, Peter Scharr told a European Parliament hearing on online data protection that when someone is identified by an IP, or Internet protocol, address, 'then it has to be regarded as personal data.' Scharr acknowledged that IP addresses for a computer may not always be personal or linked to an individual. If the E.U. rules that IP addresses are personal, then it could regulate the way search engines record this data. According to the article, Google does an incomplete job of anonymizing this data while Microsoft does not record IP addresses for anonymous search."
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E.U. Regulator Says IP Addresses Are Personal Data

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  • Strange idea (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geek ( 5680 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:50PM (#22163026)
    Never really looked at it this way. I think it's become ingrained in us that IP's are a way of tracking instead of a way of communicating. Being able to track them is just a side issue. If we look at an IP as a means of communication then does that not make it private in some way? I don't know exactly how I feel about this but I'd certainly like to have more rights rather than less of them.
  • So... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deepershade ( 994429 ) on Wednesday January 23, 2008 @11:53PM (#22163046)
    Does that mean that if passed, then the RIAA can't use my personal data 'IP' to sue me? TFA was a little short on details of the reprecushions of this.
  • Trust Microsoft (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @12:11AM (#22163180) Homepage Journal

    According to the article, Google does an incomplete job of anonymizing this data while Microsoft does not record IP addresses for anonymous search.

    Unless Microsoft is just lying. How can they be trusted, with their track record?
  • Ok, more craziness (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @12:11AM (#22163182)
    How is an IP address more "personal" than my GPS location at any given point in time? Sure an IP address can be "mine" if I have my own domain etc. This is not usually the case though. Most IP addresses are "owned" by the ISP and assigned to people via DHCP (except for static ones). This is not too much unlike a restaurant reserving tables for a customer, and sometimes reserving a table for a customer for a long time. It doesn't make the table being reserved the customers the customers personal property; the restaurant still owns it--it is no more personal than, well, any other table in an anonymous bar (for example). I can't see how IP addresses can be "personal".
  • Begs the question... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @12:28AM (#22163276)
    If IP addresses are personal data, who owns
  • by barocco ( 1168573 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @12:55AM (#22163416)
    Don't quite agree... I don't think when you pull into the pharmacy to 'GET' a small-size condom you need to utter your license plate number to initiate a conversation & transaction with the cashier (well, in which case you'd probably avoid any conversation but just have the transaction done).
  • by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @01:50AM (#22163672)
    If IP addresses are personal data, and you visit my web page, and my access logs show I served an IP that you used at a certain time (or even just that I served an IP you used), am I now subject to laws regarding the holding of personal information? If you were to contact me and request that information how would I authenticate you? If I was to disclose certain parts of the "personal data" that you claimed belonged to you, how could I know that I was not disclosing someone else's personal information, given that I can't necessarily authenticate you or anyone else and IP's can be re-allocated? If I ban an IP address for abusing my server and it is later re-allocated to someone else, is that slander? If I forward an e-mail whose headers contain IP addresses of relay servers, is that unlawful disclosure of personal information?

    This is totally ridiculous.
  • Re:So... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Thursday January 24, 2008 @10:04AM (#22166110) Homepage Journal
    In Poland, there's such an organization, ZAIKS. They request the IP-physical address mappings from the ISPs before sending the police to raid the people. ISPs are in no way obligated to give them the info, or withhold it - but since ZAIKS coperates with the Police, ISPs usually yield, just not to anger the Police - they can't really hurt them, but they can make their life more difficult, so the ISPs usually hand over the info.

    Now with this decision in effect, ZAIKS would still sue you for copyright violation, just the same. But now you can sue your ISP for illegally distributing your personal data (it IS protected here!) and ISPs confronted with alternative between "inconveniences from the Police" and a serious threat of a valid legal action from the customer, are much more likely to make the right decision: "Sorry, this is personal data, we're not authorised to share it."

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!