A YouTube clip about the potential dangers of geolocation information available on photos caught our eye this week. This piece could justifiably be accused of alarmism and hysteria, but nevertheless, geolocation tagging of photos taken on smartphones is just one more piece of information which you may not have voluntarily chosen to share with others.
What is geolocation information?
EXIF (Exchangeable Image File) is a data file that is stored along with every image which you capture from your digital cameras. This data file contains all information regarding your camera settings including the exact latitude and longitude of where they were taken. If you right click on a photo you can find this information via its properties. You may find the option to turn off this feature in your digital camera (see below), but even if you find this option, all your previous images are in danger.
What’s the problem?
Well, as per the newsclip above, if you post a photo with geolocation information, you’re telling anyone who knows how to look exactly where that photo was taken. You may potentially be inviting danger (stalkers, predators, burglars) by posting images with geo tags on social networking sites or any other sites. Or you may just be sharing information you don’t intend to, to employers, ex-partners, whoever.
How do I stop it?
- Firstly, go to your Smartphone. Here I’ll give the instructions for an iPhone – hunt around for Android.
- Go to settings – general – location services – camera and switch it to ‘off’.
Now future photos won’t have this information attached. Unfortunately, not not all smartphones have the option to disable location services on specific apps – some only have the option to turn it off or on altogether. This is a hassle as you’ll have to turn this off and on manually every time you need to use Google Maps or the Camera app.
Old photos in your files
But you still need to sort out any photos you’ve taken already. The windows option on each photo file to ‘remove personal information’ doesn’t take of the geolocation tab unfortunately. Trouble Fixers has this solution using using a tool called Geotag Security. (Note: untested – let me know any feedback)
Photos already posted
Well, there doesn’t seem to be much you can do about this, except delete your own photos, and take the tag off any photos tagged by friends in Facebook. If anybody knows different, please let us know.