EU Wants IP Addresses To Be Personal

Google Opposes Plan

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The European Union wants IP addresses to be considered personal information; the topic was discussed yesterday before the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee.

The issue prompted considerable debate, "From a U.S. perspective, there is no consensus over this issue," said U.S. Federal Trade Commissioner representative Pamela Harbour. Google Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleisher 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."

Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) Marc Rotenberg disagreed. "I wish this was the case, but we are moving towards the IP6 model, for which it will be even more the case that IP addresses will be personably identifiable", he said. He went on to say that the acquisition of Doubleclick by Google "underscore the need to bring data protection into account when responsible authorities review the merger."

"We have to know who is consulting what- otherwise our business would not work," Fleischer said pointing out that the growth in Internet services offered for free, is "partly due to advertising." Microsoft representative Thomas Nyrup agreed, "The Internet would not be what it is without advertising." He stressed the need to ensure respect for the principles of "consent, transparency and security" and that "the consumer must be able to check how data is shared."

At stake for companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft is the $27 billion online advertising market, which is on track to double in four years.

EU Wants IP Addresses To Be Personal
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  • Richard

    The idea of personal ownership of IP addresses can be taken one step further. The crazy UK national ID card scheme, as promoted by ex-prime minister Tony Blair, can be replaced much more simply and more reliably by an international ID number scheme, by using one IPv6 address per person (or more exactly per identity).

    That ID number can then be used as the key to a record in any database anywhere, such as phone numbers or biometric data or bank details or health records. Access to one database (e.g. visa permits) could be simply controlled by using algorithms or data stored in any other nominated database (e.g. iris patterns) under the same key.


    • Guest

      Let’s use prefix  0666::/8 for all these addresses.

  • Dan Morin

    This is just another racket to spy on citizens, removing the anonymity of surfing the web.  The day a bureaucrat disagree with you, he can just ban your IP address and you cannot longer access the Internet.  No more online banking, no more news, no more chat, no more VoIP, nothing.  You are excluded from the world.  Scary.

    What is interesting is this scheme is supporting by big corporations like M$.  Those corporations want to control the web to increase their profits.  They are bold enough to say "We have to know who is consulting what- otherwise our business would not work".   Another good source of revenues would be for those big corporations to sell our private information to politicians and government agencies wishing to control individuals.

  • Meh_Gerbil

    I don’t see how this idea can have any real merit.   Personally identifiable addresses make sense IF you can verify who is actually using the IP address - the same people who cannot police credit card numbers and protect us from identity theft now want another number to keep track of?

    Like typical wrong headed politicians these guys are ignoring the problem children of the internet (spammers, hackers, phishers) looking only for a way to squeeze the freedom and finances of the typical law abiding netizen.

    I tell you what.  When these glorious foward thinking eggheads can find a way to keep spam out of my inbox and eliminate phishing/spam/viruses then they can move onto clamping down on the regular law abiding citizens.  Until then I’ll thank them to mind their own damn business until they can get the obvious stuff right.

  • Sander

    You other commenters misunderstand. The EU wants to give IP addresses the same protection level as personal data.

    They do not want to give an IP address to every person. That could only happen in the bizarro-world.

  • http://www.mv-southerncross.com Razz

    Lest we forget, IP addresses are MACHINE addresses, not human addresses. Machines have no right to privacy or anything else. Do you have a telephone number? Most are so public they are listed in a directory freely available to anyone. Let’s get real, IP addresses are not and should not be private…

  • Joe

    You are all missing the point. It isn’t that the EU wants to assign this number to idividuals – the EU is talking about protecting individuals privacy.

    The point is that the EU believes it is inevitable that an IPv6 address will be able to identify most individuals. Online advertising will use the ip address to track these individuals. The EU wants the IP address to be considered “private data” much like a social security number in the US or credit card number. That would make it harder for the online advertising companies to provide targeted ads, which is why they oppose it.

  • xyvyx

    What Richard and the politicians don’t understand is that the purpose of IPv6 was to simplify routing.  Yes, it does support enough addresses for every man, woman & child on the planet (actually, there are enough for millions of addresses PER PERSON for thousands of years!)

    If a "permanent address" was assigned to a person, this would require akward routing updates if that person moved.  What’s similar, but more flexible & likely, is a address registry. ie: ISPs are required to give customers a static IP and report that IP to some governement authority.  The same policy could be applied to companies or anybody who owned a router. 

    Big Brother’esque? a bit…
    Of course most attempts to protect privacy & web annonymity help perpetuate identity theft, spam and other malicious activity.  So take your pick…


  • Guest


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