Thursday, 27 December 2007

US legal position on metadata still unclear

As far as I can work out, the position in the US on the legal status of metadata is still being sorted out. Have a look at this good review of recent “ethics opinions” in The New York Law Journal – there still seems to be plenty of conflicting views.

The article concludes with good advice: check your local rules and case law, and use metadata scrubbing tools to remove metadata from documents you send (where this is permissible).

One day we’ll have clarity, no doubt.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

PR agencies leaking data as much as the rest of us

Love or hate them, PR agencies are part of today’s business world. They do have a riskier position than most in the looking foolish stakes, though, as they are in frequent contact with journalists who will generally grab any opportunity they can to wind up their PR colleagues.

The latest one is a delightful example on Valleywag, the Silicon Valley gossip site – just look at all those tracked changes that were left in the email to the journalist from the PR.

But wait: it gets better. The PR sent an email threatening legal action if her original email wasn’t removed. Guess what? Valleywag ran that email too.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Another day, another data breach

Amazing how many of these stories are coming out now in the UK about public sector data breaches, as public attention is so focussed on it at the moment.

This week, a healthcare trust managed to email a spreadsheet containing personal financial details of 1,800 employees to four medical organisations. Surely they’ve got ILP tools to stop them doing this? Maybe not…

The gory details are in the BBC’s report here.

Monday, 10 December 2007

New Scientist covers ILP

Well, nice to get some recognition for our area of technology in this article in New Scientist (subscription required, but you can read the first couple of paragraphs for free anyway).

To summarise the key points anyway: researchers at the Air Force Institute of Technology, Ohio are developing software to analyse the text of outgoing emails in companies, and flag the senders as “alienated” or “having clandestine, sensitive interests”. Sounds like what we’re doing at 3BView but it’s interesting stuff… there’s more here (New Scientist’s press release about their article).

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Scottish politician in donations row due to metadata

UK readers will be familiar with the row about dodgy political donations that’s currently surrounding the Labour party. It was perhaps only a matter of time before metadata gave someone’s secrets away – as it has a habit of doing in political rows.

Well, it happened this weekend – the Sunday Herald newspaper printed allegations that Scottish Labour chief Wendy Alexander was aware of the potentially dodgy nature of a donation weeks before she had claimed to be. The smoking gun? Metadata in a Word document showed the date it had been saved (November 5th) and that the username was her husband’s.

The row is all over the press now, and Alexander may end up having to resign, or even being prosecuted under the UK’s election finance laws. It’s becoming almost commonplace to see these metadata leaks pop up in political rows, and I’m sure the more clued-up journalists check the properties and tracked changes on every Word document they get hold of! Remember PDF documents aren’t normally safe either unless you’ve taken the right steps to make them secure.