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Legal Protections For Metadata

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – What’s metadata? And what are its legal consequences?

For those like me to whom the term metadata means about as much as the term “Flux capacitor”, metadata turns out to be a pretty important concept as both John McAfee and the BTK killer found out when it led to their captures.

Defined unscientifically, metadata is information about the particular file. For example, if you create a confidential word document, the metadata would describe things like the length of the document, when and by whom it was created, comments, or other information that itself is confidential. If you leave metadata in a file, you may share more info than you intend to.

In some jurisdiction by law, if you’re handling a confidential document, you are obligated to take reasonable care when you transmit data electronically to prevent disclosure not just of the document but also the metadata. To prevent an inadvertent disclosure of the metadata, you can download a free service called doc scrubber.

Or you can just print a hard copy and put it in the mail so long as you remember to wipe off your fingerprints.

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