Can Your IP Address Give Away Your Identity to Hackers, Stalkers, and Cybercrooks?

–by Julie Sartain, Network World; July 17, 2013 10:04 AM ET

Network World: In today’s world of hackers, stalkers and cybercriminals, not to mention government spy programs and commercial sites that collect information about you for advertising purposes, is there a way to surf the Web and keep your privacy intact? Or does that mere fact that you have an IP address mean that your identity is out there for the taking?

Turns out, there’s no easy answer to this question. Legally, an IP address does not constitute personal identifiable information, according to two recent court cases.

In July 2009, in a case involving Microsoft, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled that IP addresses do not constitute personal identifiable information (PII). And in a separate case in 2011, the Illinois Central District Court also ruled that an IP address does not—by itself—qualify as personal information that can accurately identify a specific Internet user.

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Alan Webber, a research analyst at the Altimeter Group, agrees that with the exception …

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