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Metadata (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/technology+content/interactive#meta=0000000) is information generated as you use technology, and its use has been the subject of controversy since NSA's secret surveillance program (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/the-nsa-files) was revealed. Examples include the date and time you called somebody or the location from which you last accessed your email. The data collected generally does not contain personal or content-specific details, but rather transactional information about the user, the device and activities taking place. In some cases you can limit the information that is collected – by turning off location services on your cell phone for instance – but many times you cannot.

Action Items:

Read/Skim “Part IIIâ€Â of Nothing to Hide by Solove, Daniel, 2011


Read further about metadata and the NSA by following the links above (if you are unfamiliar with the material)

And write a Personal Statement: Speak to others. Represent yourself and apply the analysis in Part III and assess whether gathering of your metadata (as opposed to all data, or other kinds of data) violates your freedom of expression (speech) or any of the other numerous freedoms guaranteed to you under the Bill of Rights.

What is Metadata?

Metadata is a type of data that stores information about other data whether that data is web pages, video, photography, spreadsheets or content. Metadata give a précis of basic information about data such as data created, author, file size and data modified of any document. It can be easier for someone to locate specific files by having the ability to filter through metadata. Metadata can be created by automated information processing or manually to include relevant information about specific data. It has been getting very important to implement metadata in every structured or unstructured data in information technology.

There generally three types of metadata according to National Information Standards Organization (NISO).

  • Descriptive Metadata – it traces a resource for the purpose such as identification and discovery. It also provides resources after discovering content such as abstract, keywords and author. This type of metadata drives the ability to search, sort, browse and filter information.
  • Administrative metadata – it gives information to deal with a resource such as content creation time, creation process, type, technical information and accessing privacy.

Rights Management Metadata – it deals with rights, reproduction or other access requirements, persistent identifiers and methodology.

Preservation Metadata – it holds information required to archive and protects a resource.

  • Structural metadata – it specifies the intellectual or physical rudiments of a digital contet such as size, file format, media. It also explains the content’s component and their relationship as pages, chapters and table of content.  

                                              

                                                                            Figure 1: Metadata in E-mail.

                                                                               Source: ( Ding et al., 2014)

Every email has several metadata fields concealed in the message heading that is invisible to mail user. This metadata contains:

  • Time and Date sent or received.
  •  
  • Sender and receiver server name and IP.
  • Format (text or HTML).
  • Anti spam software detail.

                           

                                                                      Figure 2: metadata in Web pages.

                                                                          Source: ( Ding et al., 2014)

Most of the web side has an amount of metadata field such as followings:

  • Title of the pages.
  • Description of the page.

According to the Guardian under Obama management, the phone call records of citizens in the United States are being stored in bulk despite suspicion of any crime. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) approved the proposal of FBI on April 25 giving the administration limitless power to gain data of call duration and location data (Ramaswamy & Feininger, 2017). The order itself does not give the permission to store content of messages or the private data of any particular Phone though NSA can easily build a comprehensive picture of communication details such as location, receiver identification and the time by collecting metadata.  To avoid terrorist attack as 9/11 NSA may need encrypted data of all citizens. Metadata can be stored as data about location of a phone call or email and the time of activity (Ball, 2018).

The NSA has access to metadata over fiber-optic cable with help of secure intelligence allies such as Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (Prahlad et al., 2017).According to the Snowden document Prism is the biggest single supplier  of NSA to collect intellect information. Apple, FaceBook, Google, Yahoo and other internet giants are the source to collect metadata for this type of downstream program.

Types of Metadata

NSA main objective is to help America and its ally’s countries around the world though they snoop on user activity.  NSA presumes critical data to American and allied services in other countries, protecting the countries against cyber attacks (Ball, 2018).

Only in 2016, national security Agency stores approximately 151 million records of American’s massages and phone calls despite the approval of USA Freedom Act,   which aim to curb bulk surveillance. It could lead to loss of data privacy but according to Reuters 151 million records was nothing to compare to the scope of US surveillance. However, many privacy advocates will be angered for the collection of huge number of data.

Metadata preservation can elevate complicate ethical issues in term of privacy.  The assumption that Metadata offers a lower risk of violating privacy compared to primary data is misguided. Satisfactory amount of metadata provides equal opportunities to generate persistent information about citizens. Assume a mobile carrier’s dataset that have details about date, time and receiver identity. From these data, someone’s behaviors and activity can be traceable. The results from accessing metadata can work as similar as accessing primary data like tapping calls.   

Privacy is a fundamental human value. Technologies such as Virtual Proxy Network (VPN), anonymity networks and encrypted communication platforms have been implement as ways to weaken metadata collection by hiding aspects of communications.

Conclusion

In this report, an attempt is made to find and understand the concepts on which the metadata standards are based. These concepts include two kinds of objects information sources or creations, and metadata used in networked surroundings. Metadata has been stored to the third party most of the time without users concern could lead to serious threat.  A strong metadata system will present context for a particular information item can be serving as the spine for well-organized data management and developed the analysis, use and management of any body of data. The result will be enhanced utility, comparability and accuracy of secondary and elementary education data at state, local, and national levels.

References

Ball, J. (2018). NSA stores metadata of millions of web users for up to a year, secret files show. [online]the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/30/nsa-americans-metadata-year-documents [Accessed 6 Feb. 2018].

Ding, L., Finin, T., Joshi, A., Pan, R., Cost, R. S., Peng, Y., ... & Sachs, J. (2014, November). Swoogle: a search and metadata engine for the semantic web. In Proceedings of the thirteenth ACM international conference on Information and knowledge management (pp. 652-659). ACM.

Prahlad, A., Schwartz, J. A., Ngo, D., Brockway, B., & Muller, M. S. (2017). U.S. Patent No. 9,606,994. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Ramaswamy, A., & Feininger, W. A. (2017). U.S. Patent No. 9,609,034. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Ramaswamy, A., & Feininger, W. A. (2017). U.S. Patent No. 9,609,034. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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