Lexicon > IP address

IT Lexicon

IP address

The Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique identification number usually written as four integers (bytes) separated by dots.

It allows the routing of data packets on the Internet.

The IP address is permanently or dynamically assigned to each component connected to the Internet, and allows it to be uniquely identified.

It can be presented in the following two forms:

  • (IPv4 of 32 bits / 4 bytes allowing more than 4.3 billion unique addresses);
  • 1fff:0000:0a88:85a3:0000:0000:ac1f:8001 (IPV6 of 128 bits / 16 bytes allowing more than 340 sextillion unique addresses).

IPv4 is currently the most widely used version of the IP address, but due to the success of the Internet, the diversity of uses and the development of the Internet of Things, its address blocks have been gradually depleted, justifying a gradual transition to IPv6 in order to accompany the growth of the Internet.

IP address ranges are assigned to each Internet Service Provider (ISP) by Regional Internet Registries, including the RIPE NCC (Réseaux IP Européens – Network Coordination Centre) in Europe and parts of Asia.

Each IP address can be used to determine the presumed location of an Internet user, unless the latter uses a VPN and therefore an IP address that does not correspond to his location, thus constituting a case of spoofing.

The IP address may constitute personal data within the meaning of the GDPR since it may allow the indirect identification of Internet users, including when it is dynamic.

In this case, its processing must therefore be carried out under the conditions provided for by the GDPR.

In any event, electronic communications operators and Internet service providers are obliged to keep technical data allowing them to identify the source of the connection or data relating to the terminal equipment used by their customers.

The judicial authority may request communication of the IP address of any Internet user and thus identify him by name, in particular within the framework of article 6 of the law n° 2004-575 of June 21, 2004 for confidence in the digital economy.

As a matter of principle, each e-mail includes the IP address of the sender in its header and thus makes it possible to quickly identify spoofing situations, particularly in the context of e-mail scams against the president.

Practical point

To identify your own IP address, you can :

  • Under Windows, open the “Command Prompt” application and enter the “Ipconfig” command
  • On the Mac, open System Settings > Network

Point of jurisprudence

The Court of Justice of the European Union has recalled “that a dynamic IP address recorded by an online media service provider in connection with a person’s consultation of an Internet site which that provider makes available to the public constitutes, as regards that provider, personal data within the meaning of Directive 95/46, where it has legal means of identifying the data subject by means of additional information available to that person’s Internet service provider.”

CJEU, Patrick Breyer v. Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 19 October 2016, N°C-582/14

The Bouchara firm assists you in particular in :

  • Making your organization GDPR compliant;
  • The drafting of data protection policies (privacy policy, computer charter …);
  • Documentation of your processing (register of processing activities, register of violations, privacy impact analysis, prior consultation…);
  • Obtaining certifications and adhering to codes of conduct;
  • The study of the legal feasibility of the implementation of a new personal data processing;
  • The drafting and transmission of your codes of conduct to the CNIL for approval;
  • Legal analysis of the compliance of your data processing, including data transfers outside the European Economic Area;
  • Drafting and negotiating your data processing agreements (DPA);
  • Drafting your Binding Corporate Rules (BCR) and Codes of Conduct;
  • Training and awareness of your employees.

We are also the external Data Protection Officer of many data processors and subcontractors.