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Metadata, traffic data, communications data, service use information… What is the difference? Does the difference matter? An interdisciplinary view from the UK

Metadata, traffic data, communications data, service use information… What is the difference? Does the difference matter? An interdisciplinary view from the UK
Metadata, traffic data, communications data, service use information… What is the difference? Does the difference matter? An interdisciplinary view from the UK
In the wake of the Snowden revelations, it has become standard practice to rely upon the dichotomies metadata/data or metadata/content of communications to delineate the remit of the surveillance and investigation power of law enforcement agencies as well as the range of data retention obligations imposed upon telecommunications operators and in particular Internet service providers (ISPs). There is however no consensual definition of what metadata is and different routes can be taken to describe what metadata really covers. The key question is whether or to which extent metadata should be treated akin to content data for the purposes of identifying the categories of data which shall actually be retained by telecommunications operators and to which law enforcement agencies can have access. In an attempt to answer the question, this paper provides an understanding of what metadata is and what their diversity is by following two steps. First, adopting an interdisciplinary approach, we argue that three types of metadata should be distinguished in relation to the nature of the activity of the service provider processing them and their level in a network communications - network-level, application-level metadata, and service-use metadata - and we identify three types of criteria to classify these metadata and determine whether they should be deemed as akin to content data. Second, we compare these categories with legal concepts and in particular UK legal concepts to assess to which extent law-makers have managed to treat content data and metadata differently
978-94-017-7376-8
Springer
Stalla-Bourdillon, Sophie
c189651b-9ed3-49f6-bf37-25a47c487164
Papadaki, Evangelia
bbc1d862-d460-415d-9edd-dbe40927ceea
Chown, Tim
ec204b89-ace4-4cba-94a9-38e7649e9dee
Gutwirth, Serge
Leenes, Ronald
De Hert, Paul
Stalla-Bourdillon, Sophie
c189651b-9ed3-49f6-bf37-25a47c487164
Papadaki, Evangelia
bbc1d862-d460-415d-9edd-dbe40927ceea
Chown, Tim
ec204b89-ace4-4cba-94a9-38e7649e9dee
Gutwirth, Serge
Leenes, Ronald
De Hert, Paul

Stalla-Bourdillon, Sophie, Papadaki, Evangelia and Chown, Tim (2016) Metadata, traffic data, communications data, service use information… What is the difference? Does the difference matter? An interdisciplinary view from the UK. In, Gutwirth, Serge, Leenes, Ronald and De Hert, Paul (eds.) Data Protection on the Move: Current Developments in ICT and Privacy/Data Protection. Springer. (doi:10.1007/978-94-017-7376-8_16).

Record type: Book Section

Abstract

In the wake of the Snowden revelations, it has become standard practice to rely upon the dichotomies metadata/data or metadata/content of communications to delineate the remit of the surveillance and investigation power of law enforcement agencies as well as the range of data retention obligations imposed upon telecommunications operators and in particular Internet service providers (ISPs). There is however no consensual definition of what metadata is and different routes can be taken to describe what metadata really covers. The key question is whether or to which extent metadata should be treated akin to content data for the purposes of identifying the categories of data which shall actually be retained by telecommunications operators and to which law enforcement agencies can have access. In an attempt to answer the question, this paper provides an understanding of what metadata is and what their diversity is by following two steps. First, adopting an interdisciplinary approach, we argue that three types of metadata should be distinguished in relation to the nature of the activity of the service provider processing them and their level in a network communications - network-level, application-level metadata, and service-use metadata - and we identify three types of criteria to classify these metadata and determine whether they should be deemed as akin to content data. Second, we compare these categories with legal concepts and in particular UK legal concepts to assess to which extent law-makers have managed to treat content data and metadata differently

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 2015
Published date: 2016
Organisations: Faculty of Business, Law and Art

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 378588
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/378588
ISBN: 978-94-017-7376-8
PURE UUID: 8c4d9ac0-2149-47cf-892b-e70c0765e36d
ORCID for Tim Chown: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4726-018X

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 20 Jul 2015 10:33
Last modified: 27 Mar 2019 01:37

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Contributors

Author: Evangelia Papadaki
Author: Tim Chown ORCID iD
Editor: Serge Gutwirth
Editor: Ronald Leenes
Editor: Paul De Hert

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