Commissioner Cavoukian releases a primer on metadata outlining its
importance to freedom and privacy
TORONTO, July 17, 2013 /CNW/ - Ontario's Information and Privacy
Commissioner, Dr. Ann Cavoukian, today released "A Primer on Metadata: Separating Fact from Fiction," to explain that metadata actually can be more revealing than
accessing the content of our communications. Since the recent
revelations on the NSA's sweeping surveillance of the public's
metadata, the term has been regularly used in the news, frequently
without appropriate explanation of its meaning.
The paper aims to provide a clean understanding of metadata and dispute
claims that the information being captured is neither sensitive, nor
privacy-invasive, since it does not access the content contained in the
associated communications. The paper outlines how metadata can actually
be more revealing than its content. It considers the need for taking a
proactive approach aimed at ensuring that governments achieve both
security and privacy, in tandem, in an effort to ensure much-needed,
over-arching accountability. The time to abandon "either/or" thinking
Myths and facts about metadata:
1) MYTH: Metadata is not a threat to privacy because it doesn't
access any content.
FACT: You don't have to access the content of conversations to gain
access to valuable information. Access to metadata can reveal the
details of an individual's personal, political, social, financial, and
2) MYTH: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.
FACT: Privacy isn't about hiding and it's not about secrecy. Privacy is
all about control - personal control and freedom of choice. In a free
and open society, individuals must be free to make informed choices
about their lives, including when and to what extent they wish to
reveal the personal details of their lives.
3) MYTH: If you want to be secure, you have to give up your privacy.
FACT: Not only is it possible to have security while protecting privacy, it is far
preferable because that is the essence of freedom - going about one's
daily activities without fear of the state surveillance looking over
your shoulder. In free and open societies you are not expected to "tell
"This primer underlines the importance of rejecting the outdated view
that security trumps privacy and liberty. Canadians and Americans, like
so many other freedom loving people, have given their lives for
constitutional rights that say otherwise. We must band together and
seek measures designed to provide for both security and privacy, in an
accountable and transparent manner - our freedom and liberty may depend
Dr. Ann Cavoukian
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
Download a copy of "A Primer on Metadata: Separating Fact from Fiction."
View the Commissioner's Corner on YouTube video blog about Metadata and the primer.
About the Information and Privacy Commissioner
The Information and Privacy Commissioner is appointed by and reports to
the Ontario Legislative Assembly, and is independent of the government
of the day. The Commissioner's mandate includes overseeing the access
and privacy provisions of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, as well as the Personal Health Information Protection Act, which applies to both public and private sector health information
custodians. A vital component of the Commissioner's mandate is to help
educate the public about access and privacy issues.
SOURCE: Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario
For further information:
Director of Communications
Office: 416 326 3902
Mobile: 416 627 0307