One of the most commonly asked questions we get from our customers is “who is behind the IP?”. This may seem like a simple, straightforward question but the reality of the situation is much more complex than that. Here is an in depth look at the complex situation that is IP protection.
What is an IP?
First, let’s start with the basics.
IP is short for an Internet Protocol Address. This is essentially an online version of a return address that is assigned to every internet capable device. IP addresses are used to locate and identify communications within a given network whether it be on mobile, tablet, or computer.
Service providers take very extensive preventative measures to keep your personal information, specifically IPs addresses, private and secure.
IPs are considered to be Personal Identifiable Information, or (PII). Other examples of PII are your social security number or your credit card details.
Some information is not meant for public eyes. IP addresses are one of these because of all the havoc they could seriously wreak if they got out. Imagine if all your internet activity was traceable. This means that everything from illegally downloading a song to hacking a government server could be up to scrutiny. Legality aside, nobody wants their activity tracked.
Service providers spend countless hours and tons of money to keep this information top secret. If they failed to do so would undermine the integrity of their business. Individuals pay their service providers for a certain service to protect their PII. IPs are also kept private so that users can surf the internet in peace and know that they are protected.
The Legal Side
Internet Protocols are considered illegal because IPs are under the umbrella of Personal Identifiable Information.
In the European Union, Internet Protocols are considered personal information “because they allow…users to be precisely identified”.
In the United States it’s a little less cut and dry than with our European counterparts, because IP protection is managed on more of a state level. The Federal Trace Commission (FTC) does specify in a revision of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act that IPs are “individually identifiable information about an individual collected online”.
Google has a similar stance to the FTC…
For example, in your ClickCease account you can see the specific keywords the fraudster searched for. But if they were signed into their Google account then the searched keywords are not shown in your ClickCease account. This is because Google protects this kind of personal identifiable information.
Over the years there have been countless lawsuits brought trying to uncover the names and faces behind certain IP addresses.
Copyright Infringement & IP Addresses – A Tale As Old As Time
Basically, a copyright holder files a lawsuit against a whole bunch of IP addresses. From there they subpoena the Internet Service Providers to uncover the subscriber details.
Once the copyright holders have hit the jackpot they can shake down the victims with vague threats and even formal lawsuits.
The argument pops up about whether this is legitimate because an IP doesn’t necessarily guarantee a person rather an endpoint to the Internet Service Provider’s network. On one hand, yes, it could be connected to an individual person’s name. Although it’s very hard to prove who was there at that time.
Lawsuits over IPs are getting thrown out by judges more and more.
This is more relevant to our customers than you may think. We know that it can be frustrating not to know the name and face of the people trying to hurt you. But IP addresses are considered PII in this day and age.
Each country or state may word the issue a little differently. But one part remains the same, IP addresses are considered Personal Identifiable Information by law.
Although this is the case, there are still countless lawsuits and battles going on over IP addresses.