Metadata is a pretty broadly used term in tech. Essentially, metadata is data that describes other
data. I know that sentence is a little painful, and it uses the word “data” more often than a Star
fanfiction So let's use a picture taken on your phone as an example. The data is of course the
picture itself. The metadata would be things like date/time, model of phone, exposure information,
maybe even the location.
These additional fields, which your phone really does add to your pictures right now, help give some
detail to the core data of the picture and, aside from the location might seem pretty harmless.
One of the first challenges with metadata is that the “meta” part is defined in a way that’s
convenient for whomever is asked. Let's look at how the NSA views phone call information. In their
view it’s fine that they gather information on who is calling whom, and for how long, as long as
they’re not actually listening in to the conversation itself. They consider that to be just
collecting metadata. I’d argue that the participants of a phone call are a pretty core part of the
data, but hey, I think we can trust the government not to overstep on privacy matters.
Appropriate cynicism aside, let’s look at what can be done with metadata. Knowing that two people
(Alice and Bob) called at a certain time for a certain duration doesn’t tell you much. It could have
been a wrong number, an old fashioned 80’s crank call, or a lonely, shameful pizza order.
Now if you’ve got months of Alice and Bob’s call data you can derive patterns. You can see when the
two started talking and determine the pattern and frequency of their talks. What if Bob is a
mental-health therapist? For a given pattern of calls you can establish a reasonable expectation
that Alice is in counseling. That kind of information is clearly private, and with the unfair stigma
around mental-health that still exists in corners, could expose Alice to discrimination.
That private fact could be inferred from a pretty small data set. Compare that to the truly enormous
amount of data that has been mined by Google, Facebook, and all the companies that have turned you
and your data into their product. They have much more than the simple example given above. They
don’t just have interactions between two people. They have interactions between billions of people,
and they have the tools and skillsets to derive more information about us than we’ve ever
That data is how they get their income. If a service is free, then, odds are, you are the product.
Think about how your client’s data is being exposed when you use them
The easiest way to keep a secret is not to know it
Protecting your business data and your client's privacy is the right thing to do, and increasingly
a matter of regulation. At Pritact our core goal is to facilitate secure communication for business.
Your files and messages
are encrypted before they get to us and the metadata isn’t extractable from our databases. We don’t
derive income from your private data allowing you to safely work with your clients
without risk of giving up your proprietary data or your client’s personal information.
Curious about how Pritact can protect all your data? Send us an
email to learn more.