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I know this is an hard question to answer. Imagine the you created a website and wrote an article/page in it, say on 08/15/2001 at 12:35PM.

Question: Is possible to track the physical location where the article was created (mean uploaded)? I was thinking about get the IP address of the creator (from the hoster) and thank ask (to his Internet provider) about the physical location of that IP at that time.

Secondary questions: Is the IP addres on the site host tracked?How long the IP address of the Internet provider would be stored?

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migrated from superuser.com Oct 19 '10 at 20:39

This question came from our site for computer enthusiasts and power users.

Logging of IP's is something that the site can choose to do or not, however even if you did have the IP, privacy protection laws mean you would need to have law enforcement involved to contact the ISP (who are required by law in most countries to keep a log of exactly who had which IP when, but only for 2 years) to get any further information.

Further, unless you've got law enforcement involved a web host isn't required to give out any information and probably won't keep logs of who/what is done at any given point so they can use a "we didn't know about it and can't be held responsible" argument in a legal case (it's a common argument in piracy cases).

So, if it was nearly 10 years ago there is essentially no way of finding it, and even if it was yesterday there is no legal way to find out an exact location (you may be able to narrow it down to a city level though) due to privacy protection.

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Thanks for your answer. I'm helping my sister (she is a lawyer), so we should find a legal way. City level would be nice. Should my sister contact the web host to ask for logs? Do you think they would store them? – Gremo Oct 19 '10 at 12:24
Depends very much on the host. Some might (though if it really was 2001 it's highly unlikely that logs have lasted that long) but others may not. If it's a very large hosting company then their logs would get cleared fairly regularly (several hundred thousand people leave a lot of IP's). As for getting the information you would absolutely need to get law enforcement involved, because that information can only be given to them under both US and british law (and is also, as a side note, one of the sections in ACTA) – Trezoid Oct 19 '10 at 12:33
Sorry, the date posted was completely random! The article was created on late august... – Gremo Oct 19 '10 at 12:35
Then it's possible. As I said: Law requires ISP's to store logs for 2 years, but it's generally left to the discretion of the host/site admin as to what (if anything) they keep. – Trezoid Oct 19 '10 at 12:37
You can also use a reverse dns service to locate it, like dnsstuff.com – Warnaud Oct 19 '10 at 12:37

You would want to do two things:

  1. Get the IP of the person posting the article
  2. Correlate that IP to a location

The 2nd piece is trivially easy to do, just use one of many services online (dnsstuff.com as mentioned above will work just fine).

The first piece is the more difficult one. You can ask two different people for the IP: the administrator of the site, or the hosting provider of the site. The hosting provider is only able to provide very generic logs, and is less likely to give you the information, since they tend to value their customers' privacy. So your best bet is to ask the administrator of the site for the IP address of the author. It sounds like this may not be a friendly site to you, though, so that may not be an option.

Ultimately, it depends on what you want to happen with the article. If the article is defamatory or slanderous (I'm not a lawyer) then you would probably have a decent shot at getting the hosting provider to remove the offending article.

It's easy to correlate an IP to a geographic region, but if you want to correlate this to an individual, you would need to subpoena the ISP which owns that IP range. And that's not very likely to happen.

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