Peter Seeger was a huge influence on my life, musically, politically and spiritually. When he died at last, like so many others, I reviewed what I knew and loved about him. Thanks to Mark McNeil on Facebook, I was directed to his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
What interests me is that Pete, at the price of being sentenced to prison, refused to provide the Committee with metadata about his activities. He repeatedly says “I will be glad to tell what songs I have ever sung . . . but I decline to say who has ever listened to them, who has written them, or other people who have sung them.” . . . “I have sung that song. I am not going to go into where I have sung it. ” . . . “I believe my associations, whatever they are, are my own private affairs.”
He offers to talk about his own life and his songs, and to sing them too. But he will not provide the metadata.
In respect to Edward Snowdon’s revelations about NSA tracking, the defense is repeatedly offered that “only” metadata that is being collected. This is supposed to make it all right. The NSA (and its Canadian counterpart) is not reading your emails and phone calls, just tracking who you communicate with.
There is a remarkable interview with Edward Snowdon, on the German television station ARD, that makes it clear what metadata is and why it is being collected so comprehensively.
I’m with Pete on this. Reading the actual emails is not nearly as serious as tracking associations through the metadata. This is truly none of their business.