Does an IP address identify the individual?

This article from associated press and this one from infotech discuss an argument in Brussels where MEP’s argued with Google that IP addresses could be personally identifiable information which of course leads to privacy concerns.

I personally have been able to identify individuals from an IP address when the IP has been company specific and the name of ‘a person’ is available via a whois lookup (not necassarily the person sitting behind the computer I should add). However I would argue that the privacy laws should be directed at the people publishing the names online (the Whois directories), not the folks tracking IPs for general identification purposes like Google and most web analytics vendors.

If the EU does pass a law however this will have implications for a lot of our industry.

Steve is a well known analytics specialist, author and speaker. A pioneer since 2002, he established one of the first European web analytics consultancies (Aboavista), later acquired by Satama (now Trainers’ House) in 2006. In 2008 he wrote his first book Cult Of Analytics published on May 14th 2009. He currently serves as CEO at Quru and has presented and keynoted web analytics topics across Europe. These include The Internet Marketing Conference (Stockholm), The Search Engine strategies (Stockholm), IIH (Copenhagen), the IAB Finland (Helsinki), Media Plaza (Amsterdam), Design For Conversion (Amsterdam) The eMetrics Summit (London, Munich, Stockholm), Divia (Helsinki) in addition to sitting on dozens of panels.

Posted in General, Privacy
3 comments on “Does an IP address identify the individual?
  1. I wrote about this to my blog on December (What’s the level of our privacy?). Sooner or later a law will come, I just hope that decision makers discuss with experts and make it reasonable.

  2. Derek Carpenter says:

    I feel we should be able to access the details of a malicious IP User. Data Protection should not extend to those who are proven to be mischievous or libelous by use of false identity.
    You could get blood from a stone before anyone will co-operate. It is not right.

  3. Rean, Shontrice says:


    I was curious to know how your company came up with this model for your program. The REAN model is my last name. That was so weird to see my last name on your company model because our last name is very uncommon.

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