Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Judge Rules that IP Addresses are not Personal Information

Tags: privacy

A new ruling by a federal judge in Seattle may have significant repercussions in future online privacy litigation. That ruling, made by Judge Richard Jones, held that an IP address is not personal information because it doesn't directly identify a person, but rather, a computer. While this ruling was made regarding a class-action lawsuit brought against Microsoft, the decision could impact everything from future RIAA and other piracy lawsuits to Web and software agreements.

In the referenced court case, the issue at hand was that Microsoft was collecting IP addresses from its software users. Some of those users sued, claiming their personal information was being taken, which was against Microsoft's own user agreement. Now that the court ruled IP addresses are not personal information, it means collecting IP addresses is completely acceptable even if a user agreement says no personal information will be collected. If that sounds scary, it shouldn't.

Many people seem to be up in arms about the ruling, mostly due to unfounded fears they have that they will now be tracked by anybody and everybody online. This is fear is so off-the-wall/conspiracy theory-like that it's hard to argue with people with this belief. Ok, so it may be hard to argue, but I'll try anyway...
continue reading...