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Tracking with metadata: It's not all bad

Zach Miners | March 6, 2014
Metadata has had a bad rap lately, with disclosures tying its collection to government spying programs. But those bits of information lurking behind our phone calls, photos and online chats can be useful in other ways if they're harnessed properly.

There are concerns the groups' sensor technologies, which can locate nearby cellphone towers and Bluetooth addresses, might work too well, and pick up information about people who don't want to be included in an analysis. "Accepted social norms in one region may not be acceptable elsewhere," said Nathan Freitas, founder of the Guardian Project.

Still, metadata offers unique opportunities from a human rights perspective. "It's all there anyway," Freitas said, "so why don't we use it for something other than tracking us down?"

 

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