The AP’s Metadata

Kelsey D. Atherton spells out a key detail behind the DOJ-AP phone record story:

When the Supreme Court set the legal precedent back in 1979, phone records contained much less information. Nowadays, a phone record’s metadata includes not just the phone number, but the time the call took place, the call origin, the call duration, and the carrier.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to the protection of digital rights, said in a statement released [Monday] that it “no longer makes sense to treat calling records and other metadata related to our communications as if they aren’t fully protected by the Constitution.”

Electronic communications have improved drastically since the legal precedent was set, and the amount of revealing data now transferred with a phone call is far greater than just a telephone number. But the law has yet to catch up with technology—which means the Justice Department has access to a lot more than just the numbers dialed by the AP’s journalists.