Recently I have spotted some tweets about an alternative health magazine (What Doctors Don't Tell You) which is offering its readers a taped recording of discussions with various people about cancer treatments. The implication in the advert is that the magazine can't say too much about the contents of the tape in the text of the offer because doing so would bring the Cancer Act 1939 upon them.
They're probably right, in two senses. Offering advice, to the public, about cancer treatment falls within the Act but the text as seen in this bit of marketing does not itself offer any advice about treatment, so is fine. I've no idea if the recording itself would breach the Act (regardless of how it's acquired by members of the public) or if it's problematic because receiving it is contingent on taking out a subscription... or in fact not at all (I'm not a lawyer).
This made me wonder: what's the deal with not saying something but just linking to it or inferring it? Does that count? No idea.
It reminded me of a small collection I've been making that relates to jigsaw ID and how all sorts of things can be inferred from metadata. Efforts can be made to conceal your data but the metadata about your can be leaky.
The jigsaw ID and metadata stuff is quite separate though from an advert about cancer information - this is about me thinking through some thoughts about the way in which we consider indirect information. But I suppose both would be covered by my notion of a 'metadata protection act' in which everyone had to be super careful about how they point to things.
Convinced that others might have thought this exact same thought I searched on Twitter for the jokey phrase "metadata protection act" but found nothing on Twitter and only two hits on Google. So I've sort of stumbled upon a sort of Googlewhack if nothing else ;)
Newspapers have guidelines on reporting abuse cases, to avoid indirectly implying the victim without naming them directly. Do we have anything else for metadata? If we did, I wonder what difference it would make to this advert.