How can IP Address be used to determine the location of the device?

49 views

I’ve seen social networks being able to track my device’s location “through my IP address,” and other websites’ privacy policy stating that they collect data such as IP address to determine your location.

How does it work?

In: Technology

Blocks of IPs are assigned to specific internet companies. Those companies publish Geolocation data for each of their network blocks detailing the general idea where the IP is located.

A little more clarification as this will undoubtedly become a bit more confusing as you think about it more. The location is returning to you is the location of your ISP. If you are in a smaller suburban town a few miles out of the city, the website will still think you’re in that city because that’s where your ISP is.

When you commit a crime online and the police track your ip, they look up the ISP that IP is leased to and get a warrant to get the customer address of that IP address from your ISP and come for you. That is the only way to get a real, physical address from an IP.

The IANA assigns blocks of IP addresses to specific countries Regional Internet Registries. RIRs usually divide those into blocks assigned to specific ISPs. ISPs usually divide those into blocks assigned to specific sub-regions or exchange points (it’s a little fuzzier here, it could be anywhere from a street to a state). The ISP then uses those blocks to assign a specific IP address to a specific residential customer for a specific period of time. An ISP might also assign certain blocks to specific business customers, for larger businesses.

Most of this data – except for the mapping of a specific IP address to residential customers – is public information published by those respective organisations. That residential customer mapping can also be obtained, but usually only through warrants/subpoena or illegal means.

Additionally, third-parties might collect data about the physical location of networks with particular IP addresses. For example the cars Google uses to gather data for Street View also collect data about local WiFi networks. This provides a mapping of GPS position to IP address that’s accurate more or less to the limited range of WiFi. Though generally this is proprietary data kept secret and used for advertising, not publicly-available geolocation services.

You can get the estimated location using the IP geolocation technology such as [IP2Location](https://www.ip2location.com). This is good enough for the business purpose such as advertising etc.

If you need to be sure for legal purpose such as crime investigation, then you need to submit the IP address request to ISP with proper documentation such as warrant.


Other Questions You Might Be Interested In: