Me, My Metadata, and the NSA: Privacy and Government Metadata Surveillance Programs
Proceedings of the 2014 iConference, pp. 345-55 (2014)
10 Pages Posted: 18 Jan 2014 Last revised: 30 Aug 2014
Date Written: October 25, 2013
After Edward Snowden leaked classified intelligence records to the press in June 2013, government metadata surveillance programs – and the risk that large-scale metadata collection poses to personal information privacy – has taken center stage in domestic and international debates about privacy and the appropriate role of government. In this paper, the authors approach these questions by drawing upon theory and literature in both law and archival studies. This paper concludes that, because metadata surveillance can be highly intrusive to personal privacy – even more revealing in certain regards than the contents of our communications in some cases – and that certain types of metadata are inextricably linked with the records of our digitally mediated lives, legal distinctions that draw a line between communications “content” and metadata are inappropriate and insufficient to adequately protect personal privacy.
Keywords: privacy, surveillance, law, metadata, archival studies, information science, snowden, communication, metadata surveillance
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