An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a unique number assigned to all devices (such as a computer, tablet, or phone) when they connect to the internet.
What your IP address can reveal about you and your location
Your IP address reveals some pretty in-depth information about your location:
- ZIP/Postal code
Anytime you visit a website, it can potentially gather even more information about you. By combining your IP address with other information gleaned from metadata, cookies, trackers, and browser-fingerprinting tactics, website owners, marketers, and advertisers can build quite a thorough profile about you.
They can piece together your location, what websites you’re visiting, what you’re interested in, what you’re downloading, and who you’re talking to, and then present you with targeted content and advertisements—or sell your data to the highest bidder.
ISPs are privy to even more information. There is very little about you that your ISP doesn’t know. Because you’re a customer, it knows your name, address, phone number, credit card number, bank account details, credit history, and potentially even more. An ISP can also use your IP address to block, redirect, and censor your web activity.
In countries like Australia and the UK, ISPs are actually required to maintain logs of your browsing activity and hand them over to countless government agencies without a warrant. If you’re browsing websites that aren’t HTTPS-secured, your ISP can see the individual unencrypted webpages you’re visiting.
Even if you’re browsing websites that are HTTPS-secured, your ISP can still monitor the domains you’re visiting (but not the individual pages).