European Court advisor: Dynamic IP addresses are personal data

Dynamic IP addresses are subject to privacy protection rules, the Advocate General said in a non-binding opinion.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

The chief advisor for the European Court of Justice has declared that dynamic IP addresses are tantamount to personal data and should be protected under Europe's privacy laws, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) reports.

The opinion, issued by Advocate General Manuel Campos Sánchez-Bordona, is online but has yet to be translated into English. The advocate general's opinions are non-binding but they typically dictate how the European Court of Justice will rule.

Sánchez-Bordona's opinion concerns the lawsuit that Patrick Breyer, a privacy activist and German pirate party politician, filed against the German government for logging visits to government websites. "Banning governments and Internet giants from identifiably recording our browsing habits is the only way to effectively shield our private life and interests," Breyer has said.

The website EU Law Radar gives the background of the case, noting that the EU generally bars processing personal data before consent has been granted. However, consent is not required in every instance, and German law specifically allows for personal data processing without consent in certain situations. Breyer contends this is not one of them.

The German government has argued that logging government website visits helps in the prosecution of individuals responsible for network attacks. The case made its way up to the German Supreme Court, which asked the European Court of Justice to consider the case, and whether German law is compatible with the EU's data processing law.

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