French Court Says IP Address Does Not Identify A User

from the but-is-that-good-or-bad dept

Michael Scott points us to the news that a French court has ruled that an IP address is not enough to identify a single individual. Now, obviously, many of us agree with this general point, and we’ve brought that up time and time again in the past when lawsuits insisted that a single IP address was enough to identify a user. And, given that France now has its three strikes law which will be based in large part on entertainment companies indicating a single IP address as evidence of infringement, this might seem like a good ruling. But in this case, there’s another side to it which is important. The reason why the court ruled that an IP address doesn’t identify an individual, is to say that it is not a privacy violation to get someone’s IP address.

This isn’t a new issue. We discussed a similar case before, and I actually think, on the whole, it’s correct. An IP address shouldn’t be considered private information directly, since it doesn’t identify a individual and you effectively have to give it out just to use the internet. But for people who argue that revealing IP addresses is a violation of confidential information, they might not like this ruling very much. On the whole, though, I think in the long run it’s better to have a world where the courts recognize that an IP address does not identify a user, even if it means that IP addresses aren’t considered private info.

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Comments on “French Court Says IP Address Does Not Identify A User”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Grammah Correction Specialist

I can grammah, and so can you!

1.) Use “agree with” to refer to a person. Use “agree to” to refer to an idea.
2.) “We’ve is a contraction. Try to avoid contractions in formal writing.
3.) Article sez “a user”. Try to use “an” before words that start with vowels. But, in this case, it should just be “users”.
4.) “Indicating a single IP address” is stilted. Try using “Showing a single IP address.
5.) “this might seem like a good” is weird. The subject conflicts with the verb “seem” Try “this may seem”
6.) Where it reads “But in this case,” it’s too wordy. Replace it with “here,”
7.) ” on the whole,” is cliche and wordy. Try “overall,”
8.) ” identify a individual” Nope! Use “an” before words that start with vowels.
9.) “a user,” should actually be “users”

Howz you’re grammarz? Take the online Grammah tests now!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

Why not?

“Daily Grammar” is the brainchild of Pete Peterson, former Executive Vice President of Word Perfect. Pete wanted to find a way to easily teach grammar to those in need of lessons.

In order to fulfill his wish, Pete sought out the help of Mr. Bill Johanson, a thirty-year English-teaching veteran.

Alan Gerow (profile) says:

Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

You may think you can “grammah”, which would be nice, because spelling is beyond your grasp. It would be nice if you had something going for you, but unfortunately …

1) You have two related thoughts; these would be better connected with a semi-colon.

2) You have not properly ended your quote. Quotes begin and end with quotation marks. In addition your second sentence does not have proper verb usage. Should read “Try to avoid using contractions”.

3) “sez” is not a word recognized in the English language. Sentences should not begin with conjunctions.

4) Again, quotes begin and end with quotation marks.

5) All sentences end with punctuation. Please be sure to do this as you made this mistake twice in one line.

6) Sentence does not make sense. Missing at least two punctuation marks, and contains an extra word. Reword sentence to make it clearer removing the “it” portion of the “it’s” contraction.

7) All sentences end with punctuation.

8) Contains sentence fragments.

9) All sentences end with punctuation.

My grammar can kick your grammar’s butt.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

Your usage of “an” is wrong. The article “an” is intended to be used with words that start with vowel sounds. You don’t say, “an user” nor do you say, “a hour”. Despite the word “hour” starting with a consonant, it is pronounced with the vowel sound that proceeds the “h”. The word “user” does not require the usage of “an” because the first sound in the word is of the consonant “y”.

“Agree to” indicates consent to a particular imperative, whereas “agree with” tends to imply one shares consensus to an idea.

Mike did not say “identify a individual”, but “identify a single individual”. This is actually correct usage of the article “a”.

“A user” refers to a singular person as a plaintiff would charge in a civil suit, which is the correct reference. “Users” refers to a class of people which a IP cannot properly label.

On point four, you are both wrong. The best choice of wording would be, “submitting a single IP address”.

On the rest of your points, that is pure aesthetic and is not a mandate of “proper” writing.

Anonymous Coward says:

While it’s probably funny enough that a spam comment has been able to hijack so many posts, it’s also funny that so many of the suggestions are incorrect. But what I think is interesting is that some of the suggestions seem to be incorrect in a way that makes a certain kind of sense. Like there’s a script that the post is being run through (through which the post is being run?) that compares the text against a programmed set of rules and looks for matches, then makes suggestions, and finally posts them in an ordered list. That might account for the “an user” point, which follows the rule of “an should be used before words that begin with vowels,” but is also not right. Wacky.

usrz will prevail says:

stupid waste of time and money

Ok, back to the topic at hand …

1) IP addr does not identify an individual
2) Recent case of school spyware taking pix of kids
3) Light bulb turns on over head of idiot politician
4) webcams are now mandatory to id the user
5) usrz put bugs bunny (or worse) pix in front of webcams
6) IP addr kicked off the intarwebs
7) back to square one

diabolic says:

IP addresses

IP addresses themselves are not private information. In fact, the entire ranges of both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are publically documented. Everyone can know every possible IP address.

The only reason to ‘collect’ IP address is to attach (or attempt to attach) an IP address to the actions of an individual. I’d argue that these collections of IP addresses are a problem. I’m glad France feels that an IP address does not identify a user, because an IP address does not identify a user. However, an IP address can identify who paid for internet access and saying that it is not a privacy violation to find that out is troubling. Collecting IP addresses is only used to persecute people, otherwise there is no point.

jesperl (profile) says:

In Denmark, an IP address is not enough in file-sharing cases

In Denmark, the entertainment industry has recently lost a couple of legal cases against alleged file sharers because they were unable to prove who committed the copyright infringement.

An IP address was not enough to identify the infringing user, the court ruled, in cases with more than one person in the household or even in a single-person household with an unsecured wifi.

Here’s a legal analysis (in English) of the Danish cases

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Unfortunatly...

“If you’re neighbour hacked your Wifi, you’re guilty as well. IP being a private data or not shouldn’t have such an impact.”

If I could be bothered, I would spoof your IP and make you eat your words. Lucky for you I’m too lazy, but maybe there’s someone out there who will take you up on your “I’m stupid, teach me a lesson” position…

Mikael (profile) says:

IP can't id a user, but the ISP can use it to id the owner of the account

We actually had a guy at WORK download 2012 over our company network. I guess he thought he got away with it until our ISP sent in a letter they got from a tracking company hired by the movie company to track their “works” in file sharing sites/communities. They basically report to the ISP that a work belonging to their client was downloaded and they include the ip address of the user from the tracker on the file. Then the ISP checks to see who the ip address was registered to at the time of the download and sends them an email basically just saying “stop it”, delete the file(s) if you still have them, and don’t do it again. As soon as our network services group got the email, they knew who the user was and went right to him. Home users wouldn’t be much different. I had a friend that downloaded “GI Joe” (Paramount) and got an email a month later from his ISP. His email address was the one on the bill so he got the email from his ISP. Nothing else was done/said about it and he had actually already deleted the movie cuz he said it was crap. lol I was going to download it too, but after he told me about the email (and the movie being crap) I decided not to.

Curious George says:

Re: IP can't id a user, but the ISP can use it to id the owner of the account

That’s all fine and dandy, but how do they know the file actually contains the movie, did they put it there or maybe they downloaded it first to verify? In the absence of either, they do not know what was in that file, all they know is the filename and possibly its size.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: IP can't id a user, but the ISP can use it to id the owner of the account

They know because they’ve downloaded the movie previously and are aware of the current HASH that particular ‘works’ is related to.
The filename might change, but for p2p this doesn’t matter. If the hash is the same, then it’s the same file.

Joe Perry (profile) says:

Re: IP can't id a user, but the ISP can use it to id the owner of the account

This returns us to the problem of an ISP policing the internet. It’s not their job to police the internet, only to provide it. They shouldn’t even be sending out those e-mails anyway. The only time I’ve even seen these e-mails lead anywhere was last year at college. They e-mailed the college and the college took his internet access away for 2 days. He just used wireless instead of the port in his wall. Plus, I also know someone who received an e-mail from their ISP about downloading at home (the e-mail went to his mother, who owned the account) and his mom played dumb. The ISP was just like “Well, if your wireless isn’t secured you should have someone help you set it up” and that was the end of it. They continued downloading and never got another e-mail.

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