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Are Your Photos Telling Cyberstalkers Where You Are?

Modern smart phones are all equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) function. Many cameras and smartphones use this GPS function to encode your photos with what are called geotags. Geotags are little bits of data attached to the photograph, that reveal the latitude and longitude of where the photo was taken. While this information can help you sort your vacation photos, it can also help cyberstalkers determine where you live work and play. If you frequently post geotagged photos to social media sites, cyberstalkers can use this information to identify trends and patterns in your daily activity. Criminals can use these patterns to anticipate where you will be, before you even arrive. Burglars can use the geotag information to determine when you will not be at home.

While sites like Twitter and Facebook have security measures in place to limit the amount of geotagged information you may unwittingly publish, other photograph distribution services have no such protections. Not tagging your photographs with geotags in the first place is the only sure way of prevent publication of your geotag data. Disabling geotags on your photographs is often as simple as turning off the location services function on your smartphone. On an iPhone, from the settings screen, you simply select General < Location Services < Off.


Brett Trout

Posted in Internet Law. Tagged with , .