The European Union's data privacy regulators contradicted Google Inc. views on IP addresses and said they should be regarded as personal information, according to reports Monday.
The head of the EU group, Peter Scharr, reported on the extent that privacy policies of search engines need to comply with EU privacy law, according to Associated Press. IP addresses, a string of numbers that identify computers on the Internet, should generally be regarded as personal information by search engines including Google Inc., Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc.
During his speech at the European Parliament hearing on online data protection, Scharr said that when someone is identified by an IP, or Internet protocol, address then it has to be regarded as personal data.
Google disagrees with the report, insisting an IP address only identifies the location of a computer, and not the individual user may be. Scharr went on to say that IP addresses for a computer may not always be personal or linked to an individual. He acknowledges that computers in Internet cafes or offices are used by several people, making it hard to retrievepersonal data from the user.
Google says it uses stored search queries and online activity history to better enhance search results and give advertisers accurate billing information.
The hearing where Scharr spoke before the European Parliament was spurred by the ongoing review by EU authorities of possible antitrust implications in Google's $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick.