GeoIP lookups: starting to cross the creepy line?

GeoIP lookup is the ability to determine the physical location of an internet user from virtual clues: IP addresses, routing information, and so on. It’s great if you want to provide a more customized, localized version of your service.

Years ago, you were lucky to get the same city, or neighbouring city. In fact, if you check your location with the Geo IP Tool right now, you’re likely to see that it’s off by quite a bit. For example, it’s telling me that I’m in a city about 60 kilometres away.

However, I had a creepy experience the other day on pinpointed my location to my exact neighborhood:

In fact, the address it provides – without me giving the site ANY information, OR asking me if it could use my location – was just a few houses down the street.

This is crossing the creepy line.


4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • That is creepy, what are you doing stalking your neighbor’s house?


    I am a fan of approaches that default to a geo-generalization that skews the accuracy by a factor, and then allows you to turn on precise location selectively. Current tech in place for this, but motivation for publishers to support is the issue.

  • I’m actually downloading pirated music, videos, and software off his unsecured WIFI.



    Agree GeoIP lookups should get your general location, but not your exact position.

  • Really weird… I’m on my deskotp computer… says i’m at my friend’s house about 8 blocks away. What? Its her exact address… but this computer has never been to her house or anything.