Google Balks at EU Take on IP Addresses

The European Union is working to clarify its definition of personal data, explained Ari Schwartz, deputy director of the Center for Democracy and Technology. Different states have their own views about whether IP addresses are personally identifiable, he said, and hearings like the one that took place in Europe on Monday seek to draw the linesIP addresses should be classified as personally identifiable information, the head of the European Union’s data-privacy regulators said on Monday. Google begs to differ.EU regulators are preparing a report on the privacy policies of Internet search engines, including those operated by Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft Relevant Products/Services, and how well they comply with EU privacy laws. Peter Scharr, Germany’s data-protection commissioner, heads the group and has said that an IP address must be regarded as personal data when it can be used to identify someone. Google disagreed in a hearing Monday before the European Parliament. Your I.P. Address Is Personal
At a hearing yesterday, a top privacy regulator in Europe said something that needs to be said: I.P. addresses need to be treated as personal information.I.P. or Internet Protocol addresses are sort of like phone numbers. They identify two different computers that are exchanging information over the Internet. The analogy is imperfect because Internet service providers often switch I.P. addresses around for home users. So knowing an I.P. address doesn’t guarantee you know what computer is at that address right now. your Internet address “personal information”?
Every computer on the Internet, like every dwelling in a city, has an address. Your computer’s address — called the Internet Protocol address, or IP — is presented during any online interaction. It may sometimes seem possible that nobody knows what you’re doing online. Don’t believe it. Your IP can almost identify your machine or, at least, your home network: Go to a Web site, send an e-mail, trade files on BitTorrent, chat on IM, whatever — your IP is shuttling all over. Shakes Beneath Google as EC Debates IP Privacy
European approval of Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick may be in doubt as privacy hearings held by the European Commission get underway. The hearings are focusing on whether Internet protocol, or IP, addresses should be considered personally identifiable information. The risk to the pending deal, which has been approved in the United States, is that the European antitrust authority may decide to put privacy back on the table as it weighs its decision. It has previously said it would not consider it. Regulators Mull Protecting IP Addresses
The proposal suggests that when a person can be identified by an IP address, that information should be treated as personal information.

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