Your IP Address And Legal Identity Rights

May 28th, 2012 by

While we here at recognize that we have a huge international user-base, we wanted to take a moment to see the development in recent a recent US legal standing on how a judge ruled that an IP Address does not identify a person in the law.

As legal bodies in other countries have either already taken the stance that an IP address does not tie an identity with it, and other judicial areas could rule the same moving forward.

This is one question that we get asked quite a bit – “How do I know that IP address belongs a certain individual?” – and the answer is – you don’t. It is extremely difficult to prove that a certain user is tied to a specific IP address for many factors actually.

Not only can technical issues exist in routers or networking LANs that give a false or mis-leading reading on a user’s IP Address, but it can also be purposely inaccurate due to IP hiding software that basically “masks” your IP address online to others.

It has been very interesting to see how a recent decision by a US judge in their court system has ruled that an IP address does not identify copyright infringers. The ruling was filed by Judge Gary Brown in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York. “The assumption that the person who pays for Internet access at a given location is the same individual who allegedly downloaded a single sexually explicit film is tenuous, and one that has grown more so over time,” Judge Brown writes. “An IP address provides only the location at which one of any number of computer devices may be deployed, much like a telephone number can be used for any number of telephones.”

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the courts in other countries across the world rule on how an IP address and a user’s identity are tied to each other – or not.