German Court Rules That IP Addresses Are Not Personal Info
from the it's-just-business dept
There’s been an ongoing discussion in Europe as to whether or not IP addresses should be considered personal info. The implications have a lot to do with how companies deal with your IP address. If it is considered private info, then they are quite limited in what they can do with it. If it’s not, then it opens up ISPs to being required to store your IP addresses in log files that they may be required to keep. As we noted when this debate first heated up, the entire argument is a little misleading, as it sets up a false scenario. Lots of your info is private in some scenarios and public in others. You give out your name freely in some cases, but in others might not want it known. Your IP address is, by default, “public” in that you have to display it to computers you connect to in order to do anything online.
A German court has now ruled that IP addresses should not be considered personal info, and thus can be stored without problem by ISPs. In this case, an individual had sued, claiming that sites that kept log files were violating his privacy, but that would be like saying a store that videotaped you entering their premises violated your privacy. Putting yourself out in public means you’re out in public, even if it’s online. In this case, it sounds like the court got it right.