Big Data

What Your Phone Number’s Metadata Means for Data Privacy


More people than ever are concerned about data privacy these days. One poll by IPSOS found that 63% of Americans state that data privacy is a major concern.

We usually think about our Internet use when it comes to data privacy. However, our data can just as easily be compromised when we are using our phones as well.

We have to take a number of factors into consideration to protect our data privacy through our phone use. One of the issues that we need to be aware of is the role of phone metadata.

Data privacy protections against government surveillance often focus on communications content and exclude communications metadata. The National Security Agency in the United States ran a controversial program, collecting bulk telephone metadata nationwide. This just goes to show that data privacy is more of a luxury than a right today.

In 2016, PNAS conducted an investigation into the privacy properties of telephone metadata to evaluate the effects of policies that differentiate between content and metadata. Our findings reveal that telephone metadata is highly interconnected, easily identifiable, enables automated location and relationship inferences, and can reveal highly sensitive traits. In 2016, PNAS conducted a study on the privacy properties of telephone metadata, highlighting its interconnectedness, identifiability, and potential for revealing sensitive information.

This can lead to some serious data privacy concerns. Therefore, it is important to understand the steps that you need to take to protect your phone data. The first step is to learn more about what phone metadata is, which we will explain in this article.

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital communication phone numbers still play a significant role. They are more than just a simple set of digits; each number carries a wealth of information referred to as ‘metadata’. This goes for local, mobile, landline or virtual phone numbers. This information can be leveraged in various ways, including phone number porting, SMS verification, and more. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of telephony metadata, explore its importance, and discuss how you can use a free tool to unearth this valuable information.

The Hidden Details in Your Phone Number

When you glance at a phone number, it may appear as just a string of digits. But in reality, each phone number is packed with underlying details. The metadata associated with a phone number can tell you about its:

Local Routing Number (LRN): A 10-digit number used to route calls within the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). It’s a crucial element in the process of Local Number Portability (LNP), allowing users to switch service providers while keeping their phone numbers.

Service Provider Identifier (SPID) & Operating Company Number (OCN): These are unique identifiers for the telecommunications service provider associated with the phone number.

Local Access and Transport Area (LATA): This term refers to a geographic region defined for the provision and administration of telecommunications services. 

City, State & Jurisdiction: These denote the geographical details associated with the phone number.

Local Exchange Carrier (LEC): The telecommunications company providing local service for the phone number.

Line Type: This indicates the type of phone service, such as landline, mobile, or VoIP.

Leveraging Phone Number Metadata

Understanding the metadata associated with a phone number can be beneficial in numerous ways:

Phone Number Porting: The LRN plays a crucial role in phone number porting. When you switch carriers and wish to keep your existing phone number, your new carrier will use the LRN to route calls to your number through their network.

SMS Verification: Knowing the line type can help with SMS verification. For instance, if you’re setting up a service that requires SMS verification, understanding whether a number is a mobile number or a landline can save time and avoid potential issues.

Customer Service: If you’re a business, understanding the geographic details associated with a customer’s phone number can help provide more personalized customer service.

Fraud Prevention: Metadata can be used to verify the authenticity of a phone number, aiding in fraud prevention efforts.

A Tool to Unearth Phone Number Metadata

While there are many ways to retrieve phone number metadata, one free tool is offered by Alcazar Networks. Their LRN Query tool lets users enter a phone number and returns the corresponding metadata.

A Note on Metadata Reliability

While phone number metadata can be very informative, it’s essential to remember that it’s not always 100% reliable. For instance, a number might be labeled as a “landline” in the metadata, but in reality, it could be a VoIP number or even a mobile number. This discrepancy can occur due to number porting, where the line type does not get updated in the databases when a number is moved from one service to another.

To sum up, phone number metadata is a treasure trove of information that can be harnessed for various purposes. From facilitating phone number porting to aiding in SMS verification, these details are more than just numbers. So the next time you glance at a phone number, remember – there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Learn About Phone Metadata to Protect Data Privacy

Protecting your data privacy is going to be very important these days. You will need to do everything possible to safeguard it. This Is going to include learning what your phone’s metadata is and what it says about you.