Don’t worry – it’s only your metadata that the spies are collecting

The revelations from Edward Snowden to the “Guardian” newspaper – about how the American and British security establishments are monitoring our communications – are stunning and the full repercussions have still not been worked out. We need a lot more light on PRISM.

One of the messages that we are hearing – which is intended to reassure us – is that it is only metadata that is being collected. So, in the case for instance of telephone calls, it is not the actual content of your calls that is being intercepted and studied, but only the number of calls you make, where you make them, when you make them, how long they last, to whom you make them, and who they then in turn call.

In his weekly column for today’s “Observer” newspaper, John Naughton explains clearly why metadata is so useful – not least because it is machine readable and therefore easier to analyse.



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