Smile, you’re on metadata

by valrac4_a3kqdy

(source: The Lawyers Weekly) While thumbing through some vacation photographs that were being contested over their admissibility for a personal injury lawsuit, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter Rogers noticed something about some of the pictures.

“From what I can see of the camera that the plaintiff used to take many of these photographs (the camera can be seen in the reflection off the plaintiff’s sunglasses in some of her self-portraits), I believe it was a digital device,” Justice Rogers observed.

His eye for detail was important for, as he would note in his decision, digital cameras yield valuable information on times, dates and locations that indicate what the photographer has been up to. Collectively, the information is called metadata and it is increasingly cropping up as evidence in courtrooms across Canada — ​and, as suggested in this case flowing from a traffic accident, changing an age-old evidentiary problem.

“These data are relevant to a matter in issue in this lawsuit because they may provide information from which the camera user’s tolerance for physical activity from day to day or over several days may be inferred,” Justice Rogers wrote in Abougoush v. Sauve [2011] B.C.J. No. 1243.

Traditionally, a photograph was a picture of one point in time. It could only tell what someone was doing, or not doing, at a particular moment on a particular day. What came before or after was unknown. This uncertainty meant that even what appeared to be a damning image had little value as a piece of evidence because there was no context. Read more.

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