EU Court Hears Arguments on Whether IP Addresses Constitute Personal Data

    Mar 08, 2016

    The European Court of Justice on February 25 heard arguments in a case seeking to settle a dispute in Germany over whether Internet protocol (IP) addresses constitute personal data, according to an online report.  The case has implications for online advertisers and businesses because a ruling declaring IP addresses as personal data would undermine their business models by preventing them from tracking Internet usage by consumers.  According to a December 17, 2104 entry in the Official Journal of the European Union, the case involves questions regarding definitions in the European Union Data Protection Directive and the jurisdiction of the Directive.  Article 2A of the Directive defines personal data as any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person, and the Court heard arguments over whether an IP address constitutes personal data if only an Internet service provider possesses the additional data to identify the user.  The Court also heard arguments as to whether the Directive violates a provision in German law which stipulates that a service provider “may collect and use the personal data of a recipient of a service only if it is needed for the establishment, content or amendment of a contractual relationship between the service provider and the recipient on the use of telemedia.”

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