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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 5:40pm

    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! http://www.dailygrammar.com/archive.shtml

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 5:49pm

    Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    "1.) Use "agree with" to refer to a person. Use "agree to" to refer to an idea."

    Mike, don't listen to this guy. He's either an idiot or he's intentionally trying to give you wrong advice.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    More importantly, do not click the link in the spam post.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Hate Pompas Internet Trolls, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 5:53pm

    Anonymous Coward

    "3.) Article sez" should be "3.) Article says"

    And quit being the grammar police.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 5:55pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    Trolling: It's a art.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 6:00pm

    Re: Anonymous Coward

    The rest of #3 is wrong too, actually.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 6:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    Because the people plugging it neither know grammar nor how to spell. So, if the site is legitimate, then it is highly ineffective.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 6:02pm

    Re: Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    You give that person far too much credit.

    Trolling: It's something to do.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 6:15pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 6:37pm

    Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    I hate spam

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 6:39pm

    Re: Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    Then hate yourself.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 6:42pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    usrz will prevail, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 6:47pm

    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

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    How can Anonymous Coward hate itself? This is confusing for Anonymous Coward.

    Anonymous Coward must contemplate these concepts while eating a nice can of Spam.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Chargone (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:26pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    what makes it sad is that about one in three of the corrections proposed actually do improve the article...

    of course, the other two out of three are pretty much Wrong...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    anti anti mike, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:31pm

    anti anti mike

    ima spel evere werd wong so lamar knows hes apreciated


    and soa da frenchwes hows yu gonna du a tree strokes ruule

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:49pm

    10.) Ignore trolls who think they know it all and cannot stay on topic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 26th, 2010 @ 7:51pm

    Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    stop spamming

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    vyvyan, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 2:06am

    Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    It's never "an user." It's always "a user," although thou should call thyself "an asshat."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    diabolic, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 8:57am

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    jesperl, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 9:24am

    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
    http://www.openlife.dk/?p=994

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    Why not? Because if no one bothered with spam posts like that then there would be no reason for the post at all. When one posts a message like yours and/or clicks the link then the trolling spammer has won. Some things are best left untouched.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    Greevar (profile), Feb 27th, 2010 @ 7:06pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 7:53pm

    IP

    IP, UP, we all P.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Fabrice, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 12:55am

    Unfortunatly...

    The Hadopi law is about punishing unsecure connections to the internet. It doesn't really matter it you downloaded illegaly or not, if your IP was used, then you're guilty.

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    Mikael (profile), Feb 28th, 2010 @ 1:48pm

    Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    Obvious troll is obvious...O_O This is like the third or fourth article today I've seen this crap on. We should be able to do like engadget and downrank the post into oblivion, or at least report it as spam.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Mikael (profile), Feb 28th, 2010 @ 2:02pm

    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.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Curious George, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 3:39pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 4:58pm

    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.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Paul`, Feb 28th, 2010 @ 7:46pm

    Protip: Use PeerBlock.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    Joe Perry (profile), Feb 28th, 2010 @ 9:48pm

    Re: Unfortunatly...

    That's ridiculous. Someone stealing my WiFi and using it illegally in no way would incriminate me. That's like saying someone robbed my house, including a gun I own, and killed someone with it but since it was my gun I should go to jail, too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Joe Perry (profile), Feb 28th, 2010 @ 9:55pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2010 @ 7:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    contemplation over. If Anonymous Coward hates all than AC hates her/him/itself.

    I hate all of you!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2010 @ 7:29am

    Re:

    Making such a program isn't all that hard just tedious at times. Obviously they didn't have a team go through and beat this thing up to add exceptions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2010 @ 10:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    Learn the difference between "than" and "then", rather than remaining incorrect, then we can talk: http://www.elearnenglishlanguage.com/difficulties/thanthen.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 1st, 2010 @ 8:14pm

    Re: 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.

    Not always. Sometimes they just go by the name. Stupid, eh?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Mar 2nd, 2010 @ 2:25am

    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...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Jane, Jan 23rd, 2011 @ 2:30am

    Re: Grammah Correction Specialist

    "A user" is correct since vowels are based on sounds, not letters, so the "u" in users makes a "yu" sound, which is not a vowel sound.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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