Last month, the European Parliment went head-to-head with Google about the Internet's role in the privacy of citizens. Yesterday, the European Commission confirmed that Internet search engines outside its shores would also have to comply with European Union rules on how a person's IP address or search history is stored. Treating IP addresses as personal information will have huge ramifications, reports The Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The Next Web reports that online services may have to change their policies in Europe should their IP tracking practices be considered illegal.
Peter Scharr, Germany's data protection commissioner, heads the EU group preparing a report on how international search engines' privacy policies mesh with the EU privacy laws. Google took the stance that IP addresses identify computers and not people. The company plans to stick by its stance but said it is willing to work with regulators to improve privacy issues. This New York Times article reports that Google has already said it would erase some of the digits in IP addresses held in its files after 18 months.