IP address = personal information
Yesterday the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee discussed the idea of linking your IP address to personal information. This would effectively give legal protection to IP addresses.
Of course, businesses who collect this information are against it. The leader of the pack being Google, which logs massive amounts of data and where it comes from. Tracking IP addresses can help google crack down on click fraud or identify the geographical region of its customers and in many ways is crucial to the company.
Google’s Peter Fleischer was quoted to have said: "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" (Link to PDF).
On the opposite side of the debate the Electronic Privacy Information Center argues that with the upcoming IP6 model of the internet, IP addresses are being more and more personal.
Another big supporter of this side of the debate is Germany’s Peter Scharr, who heads the EU’s Data Protection Working Group. He believes that an IP address has to be regarded as personal data in situations where it can be used to identify someone.
If this idea does gain traction in Europe, it's unlikely to prevent the collection of IP addresses, which are used for everything from busting child pornography suspects to finding file-swappers to blacklisting spam domains, but it would no doubt require databases of IP addresses to meet certain security and retention standards.
Do you think IP addresses personal information and as such, should be protected legally?
ISEAGE PBS Leader
The Krell Institute