Forschungs- & Entwicklungsinformationsdienst der Gemeinschaft - CORDIS

D4.2:Privacy and civil liberty concerns in relation to IPv6

This is the first legal deliverable which examines the legal implications of IPv6 on privacy and civil liberty, a crucial issue which needs to be dealt with comprehensively in order that privacy concerns do not create an obstacle to the widespread implementation of IPv6 in Europe. In particular we focus on the issue of whether the use of unique identifiers in some types of IPv6 addresses are as potentially dangerous to privacy as some commentators suggest or whether this issue has been dealt with in a satisfactory manner within the IPv6 design. The deliverable sets out the European legislative background to privacy (and data protection) and puts the IPv6 privacy issue into perspective against this background providing answers to the questions above.

The privacy concerns about IPv6 centre on the use of unique identifiers in a certain type of IPv6 address. Some argue that this will leave a digital fingerprint every time someone enters the web allowing detailed automated profiling of an individual. This issue was first raised in the US at the end of the 90's where stories began to appear that IPv6 was bad for privacy. The debate has now moved across to Europe where concerns have been raised by an official publication of the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party, an independent advisory body on data protection and privacy established under the first Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC) ('Opinion 2/2002 on the use of unique identifiers in telecommunication terminal equipment: The example of IPv6 adopted on 30th May 2002').

Also prior to this Article 29 Opinion, another EU body, the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament published a paper in February 2002 entitled Next Generation Internet priorities for action in migrating to the new Internet Protocol IPv6, which set out a list of issues to be dealt with to assist the successful deployment of IPv6 in Europe. One of the specific tasks called for was an extensive study into any privacy issues raised by the new Protocol.

One of the tasks of the Euro6IX project is to undertake such an extensive study in order to deal with the potential privacy issues in IPv6 and specifically in this first deliverable we confront the issue concerning the use of unique identifiers raised in the Article 29 Data Protection Opinion. We have analysed the issues against the background and development of European privacy and data protection laws to identify what are the privacy obligations for the designers of the new Protocol and whether they have fulfilled these obligations particularly in respect of addressing.

This is the first of three deliverables due from Euro6IX dealing with the legal aspects of IPv6. The second deliverable due in December 2003 will concentrate on the data protection legislation in more detail (rather than the general concept of privacy) and the final paper in October 2004 will deal with a various issues such as IPsec and IPRs (Intellectual Property Rights).

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