Utah does more for IP Geolocation than anyone else

Geolocation by on April 9, 2007 at 11:16 pm

For some reason inexplicable reason Utah consistently passes laws that attempt to regulate niches of the Internet in Utah only. While these laws are typically a boon for Quova and other IP geolocation companies, they are ridiculous attempts by Utah to rewrite existing laws.

In 2004, Utah passed the Spyware Control Act (Ben Edelman’s review), which intended to protect trademark owners from otherwise legal (and annoying) popups from spyware. While no one likes popups, the fact remains that the legal foundation for the law was shaky at best. Utah amended it in 2005 and then saw the legal principle behind the Act struck down in a Second Circuit Court ruling (boy is it rare when you see the EFF siding with spyware purveyors). I believe the law still stands, but it is likely toothless at this point.

The latest brilliant incarnation of Utah law is to ban keyword advertising on trademarked terms. Although misrepresented as a generic ban on keyword advertising, this is still another example of Utah overstepping the bounds of its authority online. Google has already fought in court and won the right to display competitive advertisements on branded keywords. I have no idea why Utah lawmakers feel that they can usurp existing trademark law, and it can only be a matter of time before Google masses its legal forces against the gates of Utah.

The only solace I take in any of this is that the question of whether companies can comply with state or national laws online is no longer at issue. Years ago, the IP geolocation industry was set back by Yahoo’s insistence, that Yahoo couldn’t technically comply with a French ruling to remove Nazi memorabilia from their site (ironically, Yahoo’s refusal to utilize IP geolocation technologies set them back several years on Google).

I dislike that IP geolocation can be used to justify absurd laws, but it is naive to think that local and national laws have no impact online. Now, hopefully the courts will stop studying the technical feasibility and instead begin dealing with the legal and policy implications of an Internet that is local as much as it is global.


  1. T.L. — April 10, 2007 @ 8:20 pm

    This is absurd.

    As an aside, I’m not very familiar with IP geolocation. How much better do IP geolocation companies do in determining location versus the generally available lists?

  2. davenaff — April 10, 2007 @ 10:10 pm

    One of my favorite questions =). My data is two yrs old though.

    Generally available lists (free and those that cost less than a few hundred) are accurate at the country level 90 to 95%, maybe has high as 97% of the time. Reasonable enough for use in basic analytics packages, simple web applications and low volume ad serving. At the state or city level, the shareware lists do much poorer with accuracy ranging from an unusable 60% to a barely acceptable 80%.

    Commercial packages which cost substantially more (easily north of $50k annually), have accuracy >99% at the country level and well over 95% at the state/city level. These packages are used in fraud detection, enterprise applications, compliance and high volume ad serving. They can be intentionally fooled, but these scenarios are frequently detectable.

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