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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    726

    Default IP Logging and Anonymity

    A reader brought to my attention some of the recent comments at Wayland Transparency and asked about the capturing of IP addresses there and here. I will share some information.

    First, we are too cheap to pay for the IP logging that we could get through GoDaddy for our website. The information may be captured somewhere by GoDaddy, but we do not have access to it. There might be some Wordpress plug-in we could use to capture this information, but we are not using one. Frankly, we do not care who visits our site.

    [This paragraph added subsequent to the original post] After doing a bit of research into our site this morning, I should add that we do use a plug-in called Bad Behavior. This code compares visitor IPs to a blacklisted database to try to prevent malicious actors from visiting the site. This may seem like IP collection, but the only log the plug-in generates is for IPs of visitors who have been denied access to the site. I can state unequivocally that we do not collect any sort of visitor information (beyond some very high level logs that aggregate information to tell us how many hits each page has received without providing any information about individual users) - if any of our plug-ins are doing anything like this beyond Bad Behavior, I am not aware of it and we are not using it.

    On our forum, however, the software does capture IP addresses when users register and when they login. This should be no big deal since users use their real names anyway, and there's no storage of IP information for visitors to the forum. We don't use this information for anything other than determining whether someone not legitimate might be trying to join the site - that is, for example, we don't expect any Wayland residents who use the forum to have IP addresses in Russia. If someone happens to try to join, and their name/IP seems suspicious, I give them extra scrutiny.

    In other words: you are anonymous when you visit our site, but you are not when you comment.

    Wayland Transparency is running a comments page and uses a software package called HTML Comment Box. The moderator at that site wrote:

    Quote Originally Posted by Moderator at Wayland Transparency
    We don't have any way of knowing who is posting. I don't know about the 3rd party tool.

    Most likely, in the event of a serious crime, some legal authority could get a subpoena and find some digital fingerprint somewhere.

    But short of that, there is no trace of who posts what. This is fine for the posters, but frustrating for us, on occasion, when we want to reach out to a specific poster to ask them to take it down a notch when things get heated. Our only option in those cases is to not post a particularly offensive post and then post an explanation from the moderator.
    However, the software Wayland Transparency is using does log IP addresses of visitors (this is their feature page and their features include: "IP address of comment submitters listed in account").

    So it may be that the Moderator at Wayland Transparency doesn't realize the IP logging feature is there (though I understand a post was made that did not make it through moderation providing the information about the software that I have just posted, so the Moderator should by now be aware of it). If anonymity is important to you, you should be aware that IP logging is a feature of the Wayland Transparency commenting software.

    Knowing your IP address doesn't ensure that a moderator knows who are you. But if you have left this address elsewhere in your "digital footprint" (to use his phrase), it is possible that you could be traceable.
    Last edited by Kim Reichelt; 11-12-2015 at 06:10 PM. Reason: to add information on Bad Behavior

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