Metadata - A Part of the Public Records

Metadata is now considered to be part of public records.  OK, not all metadata on every email in the world, but metadata in public servants' emails.

Metadata:  Metadata is the information stored withing an email that shows where the mail was generated and what paths it took to get there.  Anyone who has played with Outlook knows that you can show anything basically as originating or from email address.  You cannot change the metadata using this method, however, it will still track back to the original sender of an email.  Like anything online, there are high-tech ways to track this information.

Court rulings: The Supreme Court in the State of Washington and Arizona both have ruled that metadata in public servants' emails are public records. The Washington court ruled that "Metadata may contain information that relates to the conduct of government and is important for the public to know. It could conceivably include information about whether a document was altered, what time a document was created, or who sent a document to whom."  Arizona court had already ruled that “an electronic version of a record, including its embedded metadata, is a public record subject to disclosure.” 

This is good news for advocates of open government and can also be used to show if an email truly was sent from the alleged source or was a bogus email.

What this means for the investigator:  This is just one more source of information that can aid in any investigation whenther civil or criminal.  Metadata can track down real witnesses and suspects that may otherwise remain not found otherwise.  When requesting information in emails - include metadata in the request

Whatever you do - Stay Safe!

1 comment:

  1. Records management is an endless process. It helps to have a clear policy and effective tools that integrate with each other, both within each department that maintains records and even across the enterprise. Consider your existing policies before you start and to correct weaknesses and inconsistencies, to understand your needs before choosing a solution provider.

    Public record searches


Add any useful investigative tips, or just leave a comment.