Businesses must consider the legal implications of IPv6

Legal issues must be taken into account when migrating to IPv6.

By Donna Donnowitz
September 6, 2011
Migrating to the IPv6 internet address protocol is a technically challenging process, but for many businesses it also presents legal concerns that must be taken into account when developing an IPv6 deployment strategy.

According to a recent report, some of the primary legal concerns that arise with IPv6 have to do with how addresses are dispersed to end users. With IPv4 infrastructure, there are a few different ways to deploy IP addresses. One is to give an IPv4 address to a device on demand, letting users tap into that device when they transmit data over the network. Another involves giving each network device its own IPv4 address. Regardless of how businesses deploy their IPv4 addresses, the report said the system inherently creates questions as to whether an address can be attached to a device or a person. When it comes to issues of law, this can make it difficult to nail down the specific privacy capabilities of a network.

Due to the lack of IPv4 addresses, there have simply been too many connected devices to give each individual phone, computer or other system its own IP address. This can change with IPv6. The report explained the high quantity of IPv6 addresses makes it easy to give each individual IT device its own address. Because each device can theoretically have its own permanent IP address, the report said it may become fairly easy to track a user's complete internet history by simply identifying an IP address and following its progress through networks.

According to the report, many businesses have begun to combat this issue by purposely not recording the IPv6 addresses that are accessing the network to protect personal and corporate privacy. As a long-term solution, this may not be enough, but the report said it is a step in the right direction in protecting businesses and their employees while they use IPv6.

As a new system that impacts technology, IPv6 is bound to present a number of key problems. Many experts agree that IPv6 will present inherent difficulties to businesses migrating to the new standard because most networking systems have been optimized for IPv4 and will not necessarily work the same with IPv6. As a result, experts urge companies to work quickly toward IPv6 migration so many problems can be dealt with before the protocol has to be used on a large scale.


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