I kind of like the EU decision, only because because it appears to safeguard the interests of the individual against large corporations — and that hardly ever seems to happen. I’m not familiar with the EU laws on requirements for treating information as “personal” or “personally identifiable” except where it comes into play for personal health records.
Theoretically though, Google won’t have any problems if it continues to properly anonymise the IPs logged and any other personal information logged alongside it — and doesn’t sell the information onwards. It is similar to the same situation with EHRs, where demographic information must be stored separately from health information so that a security breach makes it far less likely to expose personally identifiable health information.
On Google’s point, yes they are right because of ISP address blocks and people who use proxies, etc, etc, but still there are many individuals who do consistently use the same IP address, which the Google response fails to address.
I wonder what the hardcore “information wants to be free” advocates would say about this? For instance, on the downside, it could still act to protect large organisations from scrutiny where it might be a good thing…
Remember how recently someone set up a tool to show which company IPs were hitting which Wikipedia articles — and various titillating scraps of information came out, such as the fact that the Aust immigration department had been editing article about high profile asylum-seeker cases (I don’t know if my memory serves me right, but let’s imagine that happened)… well given the application of the same principle (as the EU adopted) in Australia, Wikipedia could be sued by Aust govt for not treating IPs of its editors as private information.
I started typing a comment when my computer froze :(
I think you are making a great point. The only thing i may add is that things don’t have to be black and white. The rules applied to the corporate world should not necessarily be the same as those applied to individuals. This is probably where it is getting complex, but that is also where it becomes interesting :)