The most popular and comprehensive Open Source ECM platform
By Dick Weisinger
Coming from the world of content and data management, we’ve long understood the significance of metadata. But it seems strange to now see the term metadata frequently showing up in news headlines. Up until 2013, most people likely had no idea what metadata even was.
But few seem to agree with that line of reasoning. Edward Snowden, for example, said that “metadata is what allows an actual enumerated understanding, a precise record of all the private activities in all of our lives. It shows our associations, our political affiliations and our actual activities.”
Cyrus Farivar at Ars Technica ran an interesting 11-day experiment that demonstrates how easily web sites can create detailed user profiles from seemingly insignificant online identifiers. His experiment used metadata collected from the Ars Technica business network, and from that data, showed that the workflow, interests and activities of the users could be easily derived without the need of sophisticated tools.
Scott Ludlum, member of the Australian Senate, said that “we’re up to 319,000 [metadata requests] for last year. What falls out of this whole process is the distinction that’s being drawn — that it’s the envelope, not the letter. If you stack up enough envelopes, enough telecommunications data, you have content. You can build up very detailed maps of people’s social networks, their movements in space and time, and that is no less invasive than reading someone’s email, for which we have this quite rigorous warranted process.”
Jonathan Mayer, author of a Stanford study about the extent to which metadata revealed information about users, said that “we did not anticipate finding much evidence one way or the other. We were wrong. We found that phone metadata is unambiguously sensitive, even in a small population and over a short time window. We were able to infer medical conditions, firearm ownership, and more, using solely phone metadata.”