Comment: Maybe it depends on the ISP?

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Maybe it depends on the ISP?

In a more-paranoid-than-usual period I tracked my own IP address. I wrote a script to log it to a file periodically. Over a period of months it never changed. In fact, I couldn't find a way to make it change. Cycling power on the DSL modem, router and computer didn't do it. The "renew DHCP lease" button didn't do it. It was a large ISP in a large city, vanilla consumer DSL kind of account, not static IP.

It's good that people are becoming more aware of how information about them gets out, such as their IP address, but I agree with you that the IP address alone is an unreliable means of tracking users. Sometimes it's surprisingly stable, but it does change (it's not nearly so stable with my current ISP) and if you have a laptop or other device that you use with various wifi hotspots then it's changing frequently. It's unreliable enough that, as you say, most web sites that try to track you are using cookies rather than IP addresses.

Not only is the IP address unreliable, it doesn't correspond to just one user -- if you multiple machines all connecting via the same router (wired or wifi) and/or multiple users who share one machine, they'll all be seen at the same IP address by web servers. But cookies work to differentiate users, on multiple machines or on different machines. Another reason that cookies are the preferred way to track you.

If anyone is really worried about it, they could use Tor, or go to a public wifi hotspot you never use for anything else (and reset the browser, clearing cookies and everything else, before you do).