IP Address Privacy

Just a short post about the adjustments we’ve made to our widget options because of some legal privacy issue with IP addresses in Europe and Germany.

As part of Europe’s crusade for privacy on the web, one of the battles was fought over the question whether IP-addresses should be considered as personal information, and whether they are allowed to be disclosed to the website owner.

The contemporary outcome is that IP addresses are only considered by law as ‘personal information’ when they are used for profile building. In contrast, the general usage of IP addresses is for the gathering of statistical data, e.g. to track the path that users take throughout the website.

What is however illegal in Germany, as well as in some other European countries, is to provide the IP addresses of your website visitors to a third party , and this is where it gets a bit tricky for a software as a service provider like ourselves.

You see, since the chats run over our servers, the IP addresses of your website visitors pass through us, a third party , to you. Even though your customers’ information is fully secured and we don’t have access to it, this could be considered as passing on private information to a third party. Google has struggled with the same issue concerning their Analytics software .

Internet privacy laws are a generally new and fast developing field of regulation with many complexities, which is why true enforcement (if possible at all) is not expected to start any time soon.

Nevertheless, to allow our customers to be on the safe side for the future, we have enabled a special setting in the widget editor . Under ‘Widget Settings’ you can choose ‘Don’t gather personal data’ , at ‘Data Privacy’. This setting allows you to avoid sending or storing any unrequested info from the user. This includes any personal data that the user like location, browser, language, etc. Only info that the user has provided himself, like his email or name, will be displayed.

As far as we are aware we are the only SaaS live chat provider that allows for such an option!

Truly yours,

The Userlike Team