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    1. #1
      Jahness's Avatar
      Jahness is offline OniOni Warrior

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      Arrow IP Addresses Are Personal Data, E.U. Regulator Says


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      IP Addresses Are Personal Data,
      E.U. Regulator Says


      By Aoife White
      Associated Press


      BRUSSELS -- IP addresses, strings of numbers that identify computers on the Internet, should generally be regarded as personal information, the head of the European Union's group of data privacy regulators said Monday.

      Germany's data-protection commissioner, Peter Scharr, leads the E.U. group, which is preparing a report on how well the privacy policies of Internet search engines operated by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and others comply with E.U. privacy law.

      Scharr told a European Parliament hearing on online data protection that when someone is identified by an IP, or Internet protocol, address, "then it has to be regarded as personal data."

      His view differs from that of Google, which insists an IP address merely identifies the location of a computer, not who the individual user is. That is true but does not take into consideration that many people regularly use the same computer and IP address.

      Scharr acknowledged that IP addresses for a computer may not always be personal or linked to an individual. For example, some computers in Internet cafes or offices are used by several people.

      These exceptions have not stopped the emergence of a host of "whois" Internet sites, which allow users to type in an IP address and will then generate a name for the person or company linked to it.

      Treating IP addresses as personal information would have implications for how search engines record data.

      Google was the first last year to cut the time it stored search information to 18 months. It also reduced the time limit on the cookies that collect information on how people use the Internet from a default of 30 years to an automatic expiration in two years.

      A privacy advocate at the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center said it was "absurd" for Google to claim that stripping out the last two figures from the stored IP address made the address impossible to identify by making it one of 256 possible configurations.

      "It's one of the things that make computer people giggle," the center's executive director, Marc Rotenberg, said. "The more the companies know about you, the more commercial value is obtained."

      Google's global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, said Google collects IP addresses to give customers a more accurate service because it knows what part of the world a search result comes from and what language is used -- and that was not enough to identify an individual user.

      "If someone taps in 'football,' you get different results in London than in New York," he said.

      The way Google stores IP addresses meant that one address forms part of a crowd, giving valuable information on general trends without infringing on an individual's privacy, he said.

      Google says it needs to store search queries and gather information on online activity to improve its search results and to provide advertisers with correct billing information that shows that genuine users are clicking on online ads.

      Internet "click fraud" can be tracked by showing that the same IP address is jumping repeatedly to the same ad. Advertisers pay for each time a different person views the ad, so dozens of views by the same person can rack up costs without giving the company the publicity it wanted.

      Microsoft does not record the IP address that identifies an individual computer when it logs search terms. Its Internet strategy relies on users logging into the Passport network that is linked to its popular Hotmail and Messenger services.

      The company's European Internet policy director, Thomas Myrup Kristensen, described the move as part of Microsoft's commitment to privacy. "In terms of the impact on user privacy, complete and irreversible anonymity is the most important point here -- more impactful than whether the data is retained for 13 versus 18 versus 24 months," he said.

      Neither of the search engines received a pat on the back from Spain's data protection regulator, Artemi Rallo Lombarte, who criticized them for not trying to make their privacy policies accessible to normal people.

      Their privacy policies "could very well be considered virtual or fictional . . . because search engines do not sufficiently emphasize their own privacy policies on their home pages, nor are they accessible to users," he said, describing the policies as "complex and unintelligible to users."

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...av=hcmoduletmv

      © 2008 The Washington Post Company
      Posted In The Spirit of Learning & Sharing
      One Love & Respect Always

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      you are preparing to fail!


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      Working together, the ants ate the elephant.


    2. #2
      Jahness's Avatar
      Jahness is offline OniOni Warrior

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      Arrow Google Says I.P. Addresses Arenít Personal


      0 Not allowed! Not allowed!
      Google Says I.P. Addresses Arenít Personal

      By Saul Hansell

      Google has responded to European regulators who have suggested that Internet Protocol addresses of users be considered personally identifiable information.

      Not surprisingly, it disagrees.

      The issue matters because the standards for what companies do with data that can be traced back to an individual are subject to tighter rules than other information they use ó as they should be. Google records the I.P. address associated with every search it handles.

      In a post on the Google Public Policy Blog, Alma Whitten, a software engineer, points out that often the I.P. address assigned to any one computer is changed on a regular basis by the Internet provider that services that computer.

      Google, she writes, strongly supports ďthe idea that data protection laws should apply to any data that could identify you. The reality is though that in most cases, an I.P. address without additional information cannot.Ē

      True enough. But itís also true that if someone has your I.P. address, it makes it much easier to gather the additional information needed to identify you.

      Think of an I.P. address as one of two keys needed to unlock a door. Just because the second key is needed too, doesnít mean the first key shouldnít also be protected.

      In the case of dynamic I.P. addresses ó those that are periodically changed ó the other key is held by the Internet providers themselves. And they are routinely forced to provide information about which customer was assigned what I.P. address at a given time in response to legal proceedings.

      Technically, fixed I.P. addresses ó those that are permanently assigned to a given computer ó are also not personal information, because a Web site doesnít know who is using that computer. But once the site, or a partner, convinces a user at that site to reveal his or her identity ó to register for a service, make a purchase, or even enter a sweepstakes ó that information can be associated with everything else the users of that computer do.

      Yes, there may be more than one person who uses a computer, just as there is often more than one person who uses a home telephone. Few people would say that this means phone numbers arenít personal

      Google is right to say that an I.P. address isnít exactly the same thing as your Social Security number. But its blog post also skips over all the ways that having your I.P address can help someone unlock information about what you do online. And doing so doesnít help the debate over what the right protections for personal information should be.

      http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/0...nal/index.html
      Posted In The Spirit of Learning & Sharing
      One Love & Respect Always

      ***************************************
      The Quest for knowledge stops at the grave.
      HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I.


      If you fail to prepare,
      you are preparing to fail!


      Mind what you want, because someone wants your mind.

      Working together, the ants ate the elephant.


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