What exactly is metadata? Well it is data.
With the current Edward Snowden leak of the NSA projects the media has been slinging some terms around lately such as metadata. That the NSA is only collecting the metadata of phone conversations and emails. What they are implying is that a recorded phone conversation is the “data” and that the phone number that the calling and receiving phone numbers are the “metadata”.
The phone numbers are themselves data, we refer to metadata when a piece of associated data can be used to cross-reference or look up the associated data. So if you want to retrieve the full phone conversation and other related data using the phone number, the phone number in essence becomes a piece of meta data. Yet metadata is not some obscure index key or random file number, it is actually data for the purpose of looking up the rest of the data.
Here is where we start to see through the smoke and mirrors the government wants to throw at us with this terminology and I fear that the media truly is ignorant on. If any piece of data can be meta data, then the conversation itself is also metadata because algorithms can, and are, used for detecting keywords in the conversation. So there you have it, EVERYTHING, including the entire phone conversation, the entire email is all meta data.
So don’t be fooled by this crazy double talk about “we are only collecting metadata”, it means they are collecting ALL OF IT.