On January 21, 2008, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs organized a public seminar regarding data protection on the Internet. The aim of the seminar was to examine, with the contributions of the main institutional actors, industry and consumer representatives, how to better protect the freedom of expression and pluralism on the Internet, while protecting Internet users’ personal data.
One of the main topics discussed at the seminar relates to the question whether of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses constitute personal data as defined under EU data privacy law. The Art. 29 Working Party (an independent advisory body consisting of representatives of the national data protection authorities and the European Commission) appears to be in favor of treating all information relating to IP addresses as personal data. According to the Art. 29 Working Party, an IP address constitutes personal data other than in exceptional circumstances, i.e., if it is possible to distinguish with absolute certainty that the data correspond to users that cannot be identified. The European Court of Justice provided further guidance on this matter on January 29, 2008, when it was scheduled to render its judgment in the Promusicae case (C- 275/06).