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EU court: Is your IP address really yours?

The top court in Europe is place to answer a question that appears to be as old as the Internet: Are IP addresses private info?

The response to the inquiry is a must for on-going conversations about the EU data protection reform too as for the numerous sites that track and save users’ IP addresses, the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) said.

Also, in case the CJEU rules that IP addresses are private information, this might have enormous impacts for the simplicity of use of the Web in Europe. Under German law, personal information may just be saved with a user’s authorization or for the purposes of such and charge. If IP addresses are considered private information though, among the potential outcome may be that Internet users would need to give their permission to save their address whenever they see a web site, or instead, that sites would need to begin saving them on a different legal foundation, the VZBV said.

When Internet users see with German authorities websites, their IP addresses are saved together with the time when they visited a specific page. The authorities save this information in a log file to be able to track down and prosecute unlawful hacking, the Federal Court said.

Breyer nevertheless claimed that sites can be safe without monitoring every user across every page. “We want secure IT systems, not a general feeling against Germany’s 50 million Internet users,” he said.

Breyer needs the authorities to refrain from saving his IP address more in relation to the time he’s active on the web site. Since the address may be linked to him, this really is information that is private, and he didn’t give his approval to be monitored. “If my criticism is successful, all other Internet users will likely be shielded from recording of their browsing behaviour,” he said.

One of the issues in ascertaining whether IP addresses are really private info is that Internet users do not consistently use the same, static IP address.

And when it’s altered, that might be recognized by trackers by simply combining other information together with the IP address. This type of information is unable to be considered anonymous, the researchers found.

The last legal word on the issue will come from that procedure which could take, and the CJEU.

by admin on March 31st, 2015 in IP Address

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