I Guess IP Addresses Are Personal, After All …
As Google, Viacom, and Viacom PR flack Jeremy Zweig will tell you, user IDs and Internet protocol addresses aren’t personally identifiable. So any public outrage over the logging database YouTube is handing over to Viacom under court order is really just the product of so much misinformation and paranoia. “The court has held that user names are not personally identifiable information, and it doesn’t consider an IP address personally identifiable data, either,” Zweig helpfully pointed out in comments to Digital Daily and elsewhere as well last week. “In fact, Google (GOOG) itself has argued the position that IP addresses are not personally identifiable.”
It has, indeed. Which is why it’s so supremely ironic to hear that Viacom (VIA) and Google have reached a deal to mask the user IDs, visitor IDs and Internet protocol addresses contained in the YouTube database. From the agreement:
When producing data from the Logging Database pursuant to the Order, Defendants shall substitute values while preserving uniqueness for entries in the following fields: User ID, IP Address and Visitor ID. The parties shall agree as promptly as feasible on a specific protocol to govern this substitution whereby each unique value contained in these fields shall be assigned a correlative unique substituted value, and pre-existing interdependencies shall be retained in the version of the data produced.”
Why go to such trouble to conceal information that both companies claim isn’t personally identifiable?
Apparently, to protect the privacy of tens of millions of YouTube viewers who it personally identifies.