Should IP Addresses Be Protected as Personal Information? EU Data Protection Official Says Yes.
By Thomas Rust
European Union officials have signaled that they may expand the definition of what is considered personal information subject to the EUs data protection regulations. During a January 21 hearing of the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Germany's data protection commissioner, Peter Scharr, said that when a person can be identified by an Internet Protocol (IP) address, that information should be treated as personal information and protected as such. Scharr is the chairman of the Article 29 Working Party, which is an independent EU advisory body that is preparing a report on how well the privacy policies of internet search engines comply with EU privacy law. The hearing, entitled Data protection on the internet: Google-Doubleclick and other case studies, came against the backdrop of the European Commissions ongoing investigation into the merger of Google and DoubleClick.