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Orbit v2

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Because, as has already been discussed, IP address can be linked to mobile phone subscription, which can be linked to name and address. Or, IP address can be linked to payment service provider, can be linked to name and address. Or, IP address can be linked to electricity company, can be linked to name and address. And so on. Warrant not required for the data access in all cases.
Well none of that has anything to do with the point I was making (whether IP addresses are a proxy for location) which was the claim made in the paper.
 


jmcc

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Because, as has already been discussed, IP address can be linked to mobile phone subscription, which can be linked to name and address.
It can be shown, with a court order, that the mobile device used a particular IP address at a given time. That's about it.

In terms of accuracy, the coarse accuracy is by the country of the IP address. These lists give the ranges of IP addresses associated with a country.
The lists are obtained from various regional IP registries. The European one is RIPE. (www.ripe.net). The US one (which covers more than the US) is www.arin.net. There are also the Latin America/Carribean (www.lacnic.net), Asia-Pacific (www.apnic.net) and African (www.afrinic.net) IP registries. These lists don't supply any WHOIS or ownership details.

P.ie's IP address is 209.133.220.18 and it is a US IP address. Checking the Arin list of delegated IP addresses ( delegated-arin-extended-latest ) shows this line: (I've abbreviated it.) The first field is the regional registry (Arin). The second is the country of the IP address. The third is the type of IP address which in this case is an IPv4. The fourth field is the starting IP address of the range. The fifth field is the number of IP addresses in the range.

arin|US|ipv4|209.133.192.0|8192|

So IP addresses between 209.133.192.0 and 209.133.223.255 are, according to this list, associated with the US. They are owned by Hivelocity, the hosting company. Now the hosting company will break this large number of IPs down into smaller blocks and may change their associated country to one other than the US. The minimum size of IP range in the delegated lists is 256. A smaller block won't be included. That would have to be checked by querying the registries.

It is possible to build up coarse resolution lists (by country) of IP ranges by combining the delegated lists from the regional registries.

The ownership data on the smaller blocks in some of the registries can be out of date. This can lead to IP addresses being wrongly located. Some of the registries stopped providing ownership data in bulk a few years ago and ISPs often limit the customer data included due to privacy and the possibility of customers being poached. Google seems to have been previously using that to resolve the location of IP addresses and consequently some of their European IP address locations are wrong.

In the absence of reliable WHOIS data, what some organisations have done is to map the networks. Caida.org does a lot of good research on this. ( CAIDA: Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis ). By building a network map of IP addresses, it is possible to trace the IP address to an approximate location. However, that location may be a load balancer or proxy used by an ISP. With that approach, it might get to a city or a point of presence (old term) serving a geographic location like part of a city. Irish IP addresses are a bit odd in that respect in that the locations covered might span county borders. Some services sell access to the databases of IP ownership that they've built (Maxmind etc) but even then, these will be approximate rather than precise with mobile phone ISPs.

It is possible to reconstruct a database of ownership of IP ranges. It does require a particular set of skills (network engineering, Programming and Systems Analysis combined with a bit of cryptography) and it is an ongoing process due to the way that ownership changes.

The WiFi location will narrow a person's location to about five metres or so depending on the type of router of hotspot being used. However, that would require a database of WiFi locations and their IP address ranges. With many ISPs, the IP range associated with a domestic (as opposed to business) router can change every few days and with it the location of the WiFi router or hotspot.

With mobile phones, there is data that can actually be used to give an approximate location. The most obvious is the cell base station to which the device is connected. Depending on the size of the base station's cell, that approximate location can within a few kilometers or, with smaller city cells, within a few hundred metres. That kind of data is not generally available to the public though it is often possible for a user to check what base station their phone is using. For location services, it would require a current map of the mobile phone company base stations.

Bluetooth has the advantage of people's mobile phone self-identifying for a while (the device is discoverable). Because of the low signal strength of the transmissions, the locations are quite small.

The main problem with location by IP address is that people making claims about its accuracy really don't understand its limitations. Unless you are working with this kind of data professionally, you won't see its limitations.
 
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