Privacy Basics: Protect Your Data | IP Tracer
CC-BY-SA by Mozilla, Hive Toronto, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC)
You will explore the internet using "internet protocol" addresses - or IP addresses - to follow and map the connections between websites and devices, learning about navigate and search.
Web Literacy Skills
21st Century Skills
- Explore an internet protocol (IP) address as a form of personal information.
- Locate information about a site using its IP address.
- Decide on the definition of "personal information" by identifying key indicators.
- Identify what types of information can identify a person online.
- Beginner web users
In this lesson, your learners will:
- Learn what an Internet Protocol (IP) address is.
- Learn how to find their computers' IP addresses.
- Find the IP addresses of their favorite websites.
- Learn how to map an IP address to a location in the offline world.
- Map the offlinelocations of their facorite websites' servers.
- Reflect on their learning.
Do the activity on your own to become familiar with it.
Internet protocol (IP) addresses are a kind of personal information that may be collected online that many people do not even think about. Wikipedia defines that an IP Address is “a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication” (Wikipedia, “IP address”). An IP address is a string of digits that looks something like 22.214.171.124.
Low Connectivity Tips
If you want to facilitate this activity without computers you can print out a list of popular IP addresses and have your learners create a paper map. A printable worksheet is available for this activity for your learners to record their research responses on IP addresses. This activity will also work with one internet connected computer and a projector.
Look-up Your IP Address5 minutes
Next, ask each learner to enter their IP address on that site to see what kind of information that address shares about you. It will likely reveal your general location and the name of the company you're using for your internet connection.
Facilitate a brief discussion about how much information people should be able to find out about one another through an IP address. For example, is it right that someone can almost "find" you in real life using an online address?
Research IP Addresses10 minutes
Ask learners to use online search tools to see if they can find the answers to the following questions about IP addresses. Ask learners to write down or otherwise record their responses by taking notes.
- Why were IP addresses developed and what role do they play in helping the internet work?
- What is the future of the IP address? State three facts about what is IPv6 and why it is important.
- What personal information does the IP address reveal about you?
Discuss learners' answers to these questions before moving on in the lesson.
IP Addresses of Your Favorite Sites15 minutes
Alone or in a group, generate a list of your 5 favorite websites.
Invite learners to look up the IP address of their 5 favorite websites using an an online resource to trace IP addresses such as http://www.iptrackeronline.com/.
Ask learners to record the following information for each site they loook up by IP address:
- Name and URL of website:
- IP Address
Note that some famous companies will appear to have local IP addresses. That's because many local internet service providers (ISP) cache, or store, copies of websites like YouTube on their own servers so that customers can download content more quickly. Ask your learners to note whether or not they think the IP addresses they find are each a local or original copy of a site.
Mapping IP Addresses15 minutes
Use a paper map to mark the locations of the IP addresses for websites you have traced IP addresses for. Alternatively, you can use a service like Google maps to create your maps digitally.
Examine your map and explore the discussion questions through independent reflection or in a discussion group.
Reflection and Assessment5 minutes
Finally, facilitate a reflective discussion of what learners found out about IP addresses using questions like these or ones you write on your own.
- Do you think an IP Address is personal information? Why or why not? Discussion Tip: An IP Address is considered personal information by the EU and Canada, but not by the US or the UK. Learners in your group may be aware that sometimes organizations like a school share a single external IP address and argue against an IP address being PI.
- Were there any websites that you tracked which masked their location information? Why would this be important?
- Were there any websites that you tracked where the location information, such as the city or country, was different from where you thought the site should be located? Discussion Tip: Sometimes IP addresses are masked to appear to be elsewhere. This means that the location of the device or website is made to appear to be elsewhere in the world.
- Can you find any statements on whether an internet company or government agency considers an IP address to be personal information?
- Have you heard of any news stories involving IP addresses? What issues were at stake? Discussion Tip: Numerous news stories involve IP addresses. Some examples from 2014 - 2015 include Netflix’s perspectives on Canadians’ use of foreign IP addresses to access extra content or problematic changes, or vandalism, made to Wikipedia pages from particular IP addresses.
- What steps do people take to keep their IP addresses private? Discussion Tip: Individuals may choose to use a virtual private network (VPN) or proxy to obscure their IP addresses.
Curious to learn more about strong online safety habits? Check out this Privacy & Security Toolkit.Next activity→Understanding Security
8. Optional: Badging
Explore internet protocol (IP) addresses and learn how it may be associated with your identify, with a device, or with a website. You will trace IP addresses and make a map while you learn about how to search online.
Steps to complete this task:
- Using an online resource to trace IP addresses (e.g. http://who.is or http://www.iptrackeronline.com/ or another of your choosing), look up your IP address.
- Look up the IP address of your 5 favorite websites using an an online resource to trace IP addresses (i.e., http://www.iptrackeronline.com/).
- Identify and collect information about 5 of your favorite websites.
- Make a note of the following information: Name and URL of website, IP Address, City, Country, Latitude, Longitude.
Answer the following questions:
- Were there any websites that you tracked which masked their location information?
If you successfully complete the above, you will practice the following skills:
- Problem solving
The skills that you have learned through this activity can be recognized and validated by earning credentials or badges.
Through a partnership with the Open Badges Academy (OBA), you can earn over 15 Web Literacy and 21st Century Skills credentials or badges. Once you earn them, you can share the credentials/badges via your social media or resume or use them to connect with others.