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Preliminary question on virtual IP addresses? That is the question.

Just read the interesting case comment by Yentl van den Winkel on ECJ 19 October 2016 (C‑582/14, ECLI:EU:C:2016:779) for the Dutch journal for Internet Law (to appear). This case Breyer vs. Bundesrepublik Deutschland is discussed as a ruling on dynamic IP addresses.

Maybe I am not the first to notice, but it struck me that the preliminary question is not about dynamic IP addresses. It reads:

Must Article 2(a) of Directive 95/46 … be interpreted as meaning that an internet protocol address (IP address) which an [online media] service provider stores when his website is accessed already constitutes personal data for the service provider if a third party (an access provider) has the additional knowledge required in order to identify the data subject?

The essential part is:

“an internet protocol address (IP address) which an [online media] service provider stores when his website is accessed”

If a website stores the IP address of a visitor, it can be either a dynamic or a static IP address. The Court, however, continues:

“the referring court asks essentially whether Article 2(a) of Directive 95/46 must be interpreted as meaning that a dynamic IP address registered by an online media services provider when a person accesses a website

Maybe I have a different notion of what essentially entails, but I read the question once, twice, and an additional number of times, but still can see the reference to the dynamic character of IP addresses. Am I right, or is the ECJ?



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