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Lycos Germany bins IP address data

Legal threat prompts action

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Lycos DSL in Germany says it will no longer store dynamic IP addresses of its customers, now that a specialist on data privacy laws from Frankfurt University has threatened to sue the company.

Jonas Breyer had asked Lycos what data was kept on him and whether that information was shared with backbone providers, but the ISP refused to co-operate. Probably to avoid further law suits, Lycos has now decided to ditch IP storage altogether.

Deutsche Telekom tentacle T-Online faces similar threats from German subscriber Holger Voss, who this week in court argued that dynamic IP addresses are irrelevant for book keeping and shouldn't be stored. According to the German Tele Services Data Protection and Telecommunications Act, ISPs are only allowed to store communications data for accounting purposes. Apparently, there is no requirement for German ISPs to keep a record of IP addresses.

A decision by German ISPs not to keep logs on IP addresses would be extremely controversial as the entertainment industry is increasingly demanding from ISPs to disclose the names of suspected file sharers. Courts in both Germany and Canada have recently denied the entertainment industry the right to subpoena the identities of file-sharers. Of course, as most broadband providers use fixed IP addresses for their customers, an audit trail would still be able to reveal their identity. ®

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