Study finds phone metadata can reveal sensitive personal information

BY Hari Sreenivasan and News Desk  March 16, 2014 at 7:15 PM EDT

The government has your number, and the meta-data surrounding it. What does that really mean? From the heads of intelligence agencies to the president, they’ve all said it is not identifiable, but a couple of students at Stanford are finding something different in their research.As part of an ongoing study at Stanford, computer science doctoral students Jonathan Mayer and Patrick Mutchler have found that collecting highly sensitive information using phone metadata — including a person’s medical condition, firearm ownership, or religious affiliation — is easier than most people may realize.

Watch this Google Hangout between Hari Sreenivasan and  Mayer to learn more about their study. Mayer says, even in their small scale experiment they were able to glean a lot of personal information and attach it to a number.

More of their research can be found at and you can also check out the chart we showed you during the video chat.