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    IDG News Service: European Parliament to Postpone IP Privacy Issue

    IDG News Service reports on the European Parliament and telecommunications:

    European parliamentarians, set to vote on changes to the European telecommunications legal landscape this week, will put off at least one crucial question: Should IP addresses be considered private data?

    Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will give their verdict on a range of issues including how to regulate telecom companies in the EU, how to punish firms that distort competition, how to share the windfall of radio frequencies that are being freed up by TV’s migration to digital broadcasting, and how to preserve citizens’ data in the digital age.

    But they are divided about whether to consider IP addresses as personal data. “We will ask the Commission formally to produce a report on this,” said Malcolm Harbour, a British conservative MEP who is playing a central role shepherding the so-called telecom review through the Parliament.

    An IP address is a unique 32-bit numeric address that identifies a computer on a network. I previously wrote about IP addresses during the uproar over a federal judge ordering Google to turn over to Viacom every record of every video watched by YouTube users worldwide, including users’ names and IP addresses.

    The judge had used Google’s own words against it — the company had said: “We . . . are strong supporters of the idea that data protection laws should apply to any data that could identify you. The reality is though that in most cases, an IP address without additional information cannot.”  

    I disagree. I believe that, in most cases, an IP address can be identifiable even without additional information.

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