How close to your actual home is the geo-info companies have about your IP address?

How close to your actual home is the geo-info companies have about your IP address?

The debate around IP addresses as personal information hinges primarily around the fact that an ISP will usually have the identity of the subscriber assigned an IP address.   So the real issue isn’t really about IP adresses, but rather how to handle information which may be non-personal to one party, but which is linked to personal information in the hands of others.  IP address is one of the more prominent examples of this issue, because it is often the “clue” left behind by a someone visiting a Web site, searching, or creating an email account.  But account identifiers that are personal to one company are often shared with others, for example Web analytics companies or ad networks who use this ID to help correlate web log data.  The analytics company or ad network can not identify the user, but the data is handed back to the client who may be able to.

Here is how DoubleClick explains it:

DoubleClick’s ad-serving and search products utilize non-PII. Some of our clients may associate PII that you have given them (for example, a customer number, if you have registered at or purchased from their websites), with their advertising campaigns. Although this customer number may be passed from the client to DoubleClick’s ad servers during the ad delivery process, DoubleClick cannot recognize this information as PII and cannot link it to any person.

Let’s get back to IP addresses.  We have posted previously about how most companies do not currently use IP to track users, relying on cookies for this.  They are also needed for auditing, fraud and security purposes and we will post more on that in the future.  But one of the most common uses is to estimate a user’s location for reporting and analytics or for ad targeting.  How well does that work?

Here is a test from one IP geo-look-up site, WhatisMyIPAddress.com.  My home is 60 miles or so away from the location identified.  Not sure what service they are using for the data, some may be better than this which claims as follows:  “Country accuracy is estimated at about 99%. For IP addresses in the United States, 90% accurate on the state level, and 81% accurate within a 25 mile radius.  World-wide users indicate 60% accurate within 25 miles.

Try it.   How accurate was yours?

Leave a Reply


Privacy Calendar

Oct
24
Fri
9:00 am Web Privacy & Transparency Confe... @ Princeton University
Web Privacy & Transparency Confe... @ Princeton University
Oct 24 @ 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
On Friday, October 24, 2014, the Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP) at Princeton University is hosting a public conference on Web Privacy and Transparency. It will explore the quickly emerging area of computer science research that[...]
Oct
29
Wed
4:00 pm Big Data and Privacy: Navigating... @ Schulze Hall
Big Data and Privacy: Navigating... @ Schulze Hall
Oct 29 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The rapid emergence of “big data” has created many benefits and risks for businesses today. As data is collected, stored, analyzed, and deployed for various business purposes, it is particularly important to develop responsible data[...]
Oct
30
Thu
9:00 am The Privacy Act @40: A Celebrati... @ Georgetown Law
The Privacy Act @40: A Celebrati... @ Georgetown Law
Oct 30 @ 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
The Privacy Act @40 A Celebration and Appraisal on the 40th Anniversary of the Privacy Act and the 1974 Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act October 30, 2014 Agenda 9 – 9:15 a.m. Welcome[...]
Nov
7
Fri
all-day George Washington Law Review 201... @ George Washington University Law School
George Washington Law Review 201... @ George Washington University Law School
Nov 7 – Nov 8 all-day
Save the date for the GW Law Review‘s Annual Symposium, The FTC at 100: Centennial Commemorations and Proposals for Progress, which will be held on Saturday, November 8, 2014, in Washington, DC. This year’s symposium, hosted in[...]
Nov
11
Tue
10:15 am You Are Here: GPS Location Track... @ Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
You Are Here: GPS Location Track... @ Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows
Nov 11 @ 10:15 am
EFF Staff Attorney Hanni Fakhoury will present twice at the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association’s Annual Sunny Climate Seminar. He will give a presentation on government location tracking issues and then participate in a panel[...]
Nov
12
Wed
all-day PCLOB Public Meeting on “Definin... @ Washington Marriott Hotel
PCLOB Public Meeting on “Definin... @ Washington Marriott Hotel
Nov 12 all-day
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will conduct a public meeting with industry representatives, academics, technologists, government personnel, and members of the advocacy community, on the topic: “Defining Privacy.”   While the Board will[...]
Nov
20
Thu
all-day W3C Workshop on Privacy and User... @ Berlin, Germany
W3C Workshop on Privacy and User... @ Berlin, Germany
Nov 20 – Nov 21 all-day
The Workshop on User Centric App Controls intents to further the discussion among stakeholders of the mobile web platform, including researchers, developers and service providers. This workshop serves to investigate strategies toward better privacy protection[...]

View Calendar