STOP!! Read this Metadata Info NOW Including Florida Bar Articles and Clerks Resources

This is serious business folks… you MUST become aware of what information you are providing when you send a document out.. Forget about e-filing.. but what about e-mailing a proposed document to opposing counsel, to a co-counsel or to a client… or even to a Judge?? Are you 100% sure you want them have information that isn’t on the face of the document which might include information you (thought you) deleted?

Stop for a second and think, do you really understand the basics of metadata? If you had to give a 2 minute infomercial on metadata… what would you say?

This is what I would say…. metadata is the data about the data… or the information about the information… BORING!! And what does that really mean? How does that really apply to what we are doing on a daily basis? In work? At home? On our smart phones?

Here is a really simple example of some metadata.. think about an email you receive at work.. when you look at the email you see the senders name and/or email address, your name and/or email address, the data/time, the subject and then the body of the email which might include attachments… When you look at the metadata for the e-mail, you can find out things like what e-mail program you are using (Outlook, Outlook Express, etc), the senders IP address, it can reveal how often you e-mail a person, how often they e-mail you back, and lots of other information…   Now, that kind of stuff may not matter to most of us but you need to know it is there….

So, lets look at another example that I know a lot of people do… taking pictures on your smart phone and sharing them on Facebook or other social sharing sites… Smartphones with have GPS, and newer cameras which are also “smarter” these days, add information to the pictures…. that information can include things like what type of device was used (an iPhone vs. a Canon Camera etc), the name of the file, file size, creation date and other random stuff… but did you know that it may also include your GPS location at the time you took the picture? Still taking pictures of your fancy new car parked in front of your house and posted that picture online? Awesome, car thieves now know exactly where that car is parked while you are cozy asleep at night… Taking pictures of your adorable children at the park or at school or even in your yard and sharing them with the world? I don’t need to even tell you why that’s a bad idea…. Some websites now strip out this information from pictures you post, but you need to be sure and aware. For your iPhone, check out an app called Photo Investigator by Daniel Anderson…. It’s free and will allow you to view AND remove metadata including GPS information.

Those are just two common examples… Word, Excel, Powerpoint, PDF etc all contain various amounts and types of metadata which can expose a LOT of unintended information…

Florida Bar Article: Lawyers are responsible for stripping metadata from all e-filed documents

Florida Bar Article: Proposal would indemnify clerks if lawyers fail to redact documents

Florida Clerks Video Tutorial: Florida Courts E-Filing Portal – Removing Metadata from Word Doc

Metadata: What you can’t see CAN hurt you. <- This article is from 2007 but it does a great job of showing what metadata is and gives some real life examples of metadata involved issues.

Metadata is Scary <- an article from 2013 which gives you some real practical examples of metadata.

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