Metadata and Privacy

Question: Is there cause for concern about the invisible data that is contained in every Microsoft Word file we create?

The IT Guy says:
It is probably valuable for everyone to know about the information that Microsoft Word automatically creates with every file. Whether people are worried about this or not will depend on the context of use. By default, Word saves a large number of informational items about the user who created a Word file in the file itself. This information is sometimes referred to as "metadata."

Metadata can include the user's name, initials, the company's name, the name of the computer where the document was created, the name of the hard drive or network server where the file was initially saved, etc. If revision tracking is turned on for a document, even more information will be there. Although this information may not be visible inside the Word application, when you open the file in a text editor or other program, it will be there. If revisions have been added to a document and then removed, they still may be embedded in the document but hidden to the casual user.

Teachers should be aware of this when sharing documents with others, including parents. This is unlikely to be a problem, but documents shared on the district website should probably be converted to PDF format to remove much of this metadata.

Next Tip: Wireless Networks and Health Risks