As you might know, the beloved EU data retention directive requires Internet-Service-Provider to save communication metadata. In Germany, the product of this directive is called “Vorratsdatenspeicherung”. Surveillance-enthusiasts argue, that metadata does not violate any privacy rights because it does not save the content of communication and is therefore harmless. Metadata means that for meta-information of each communication is saved: who you called, how long the conversation was, the location of the callers but not the actual content of the conversation itself. Additionally, metadata is collected for Internet traffic as well. The picture above by the Electronic Frontier Foundation simply, but powerful explains, why this is a false assumption and a simple political maneuver. Metadata, in most cases, is more valuable information than the actual content itself. Leaked documents confirm, that it is Metadata that the NSA is most interested in, simply because it is relatively easy to handle and rich with information. Check out this visualization of metadata to see how useful it really is. It allows the creation of precise tracking of your very location.
Currently, the German debate about Vorratsdatenspeicherung is going to heat up once again, because newly elected Minister Maas decided to wait for an EU-court decision before launching a new initiative. My bet is, that we will hear the same stupid arguments about “harmless” metadata once again. Better be prepared.