I just read your automated answer to the question I posted, and you’ve got
me worried. I can see my IP address in your answer. How did you do that? Does
that mean that if I email you you also get my IP address?
I’m constantly amazed at how many people are concerned about the privacy of
their IP address.
I guess I shouldn’t be that amazed, because of the number of other questions
I get by people trying to trace an IP address to a specific person or
Folks, there is no privacy with respect to your IP address. But that
does not mean just anyone can actually find you.
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When you connect to any web site, your IP address given to that site so that
it knows where to send the data back. It’s that simple. If your IP address
wasn’t included, the web server wouldn’t know how to get you the web pages you
want to look at.
That also means that web servers that ‘do something’ – like process a form
or take a question, have access to that information. When you post a question
on my ask a question page, the software that
processes your question knows your IP address, and includes that information on
the automated email that confirms your question.
The only difference between what my form does and the rest of the internet
is that my form shows you what I know. Every website you visit also knows your
IP address and can do whatever they like with it.
reason, no one will find your physical location from your IP address.”
But “what they can do with it” is very, very little.
Most people are afraid that they can somehow be physically located
by their IP address. Yes, it is technologically possible, but it
requires that your ISP provide the information. The only time they do
is under court order or other legal pressure. Unless you expect the police to
come after you for some reason, no one will find your physical location from
your IP address.
In fact, all I could tell from the original questioner is that they were
using an ISP based in England, and that they are possibly located in a specific
region in England. To learn more I’d have to get their ISP to tell me – which
Now, I still won’t publish the IP address here – or anywhere for that
matter. With an IP address, it is possible to attack the computer
across the internet without knowing it’s location. For example one could stage
a denial of service attack – attempting to overwhelm the computer at that IP
address with bogus data.
But you still won’t know where that computer is.
Now, as to email sometimes your email provider will include the email
address of your computer, particularly if you use POP3/SMTP to connect to get
your mail. For web based mail services like HotMail, GMail and the like results
are mixed. Some will and some won’t include your IP address in the header. In
fact I’ve even seen HotMail be very inconsistent about this – sometimes it
does, sometimes it does not.
But as I keep telling people, in the long run it doesn’t matter.
In fact, come to think of it, everyone who’s ever gotten an email from me
has my IP address in the mail headers.
It just the way things work.