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I've discovered one of my newly acquired powers is to see the location of a member's IP address. This would conveniently let me add location to a question when appropriate and avoid discussing US-centric solutions to a Non-USian member. It would also save the comment 'country?' that's pretty frequent here.

But. Is it a bit creepy for a new member to see his question tagged with a country when he didn't offer it himself?

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  • 3
    What with proxies and other non-technical nonsense, it isn't very trustworthy anyhow. – MrChrister Apr 15 '14 at 21:19
  • So you're not in Denver? :) – JTP - Apologise to Monica Apr 15 '14 at 21:34
  • It seems that in a good number of cases the user has a location set in his/her user profile, which is unambiguously public and also probably more reliable since the user put the info there themselves. – BrenBarn Apr 25 '14 at 20:38
  • @BrenBarn - agreed. I just see "please add country tag" far more than I'd like. And I do check profile before asking. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Apr 25 '14 at 21:04
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The ability to see IP addresses is meant for moderation purposes, not for anything else. Adding the location of the user based on this moderator-only information could be seen as a violation of the moderator agreement as you're indirectly disclosing PII to all other users.

In short, this is problematic at least and might even be a violation of the moderator agreement and the SE privacy policy.

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    Understood. No problem. I will continue to prompt users to add a country when appropriate. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Apr 15 '14 at 20:36
  • Potential violation of SE Privacy Policy and Moderator Agreement? Yeah. Country information alone as "PII"? Nope. You're 50% right in your reasoning, but 100% right in your response – Noah May 6 '14 at 19:57
  • @Noah The IP address is PII, at least in some countries (like Germany where I'm from). My own rule as a moderator is that information derived from PII is something I shouldn't reveal as well. The legal situation is certainly much more complicated, and I'm not qualified to comment on it. – user14527 May 6 '14 at 20:22
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Aside from the previously noted privacy concerns, which are probably valid, it's not necessarily the correct jurisdiction. Some proportion of questions are hypothetical, future-oriented, past-oriented, or asked while in a different jurisdiction or on behalf of remote acquaintances. So the assumption based on the asker's IP will be incorrect some small but noticeable number of times.

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