European High Court Rules that Dynamic IP Addresses are Personal Data

The Court of Justice for the European Union has ruled that dynamic IP addresses are personal data subject to protection under data protection law. The Court said that user's identity can still be revealed through use of legal process, even though the numeric address may not be unique to the user. The Court also said that the collection of IP addresses must be limited to the purposes for which they were collected. The Court noted that personal data can be lawfully collected if it is necessary to protect cybersecurity. The European Court of Justice opinion is aligned with EPIC's recommendation for Privacy Enhancing Technologies that minimize or eliminate the collection of personally identifiable information. Internet services that do not retain IP addresses or adopt techniques that are unable to link IP addresses to a particular user may not be subject to the decision, which is binding across Europe. EPIC has made similar arguments about the scope of personal information to US courts as amicus curiae. EPIC argued in the Nickelodeon case that IP addresses and unique devices IDs are personally identifiable information subject to protection under US privacy law. Federal courts are now split on the issue and the US Supreme Court may soon resolve the matter.

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