Did you know that a photo can reveal where you live? That’s right, photos you took with your cel phone or posted online could be giving away private information such as where you live, and where and when you work, go to school, or are on vacation.
When you take a picture, your camera or cel phone records and stores a bunch of data about the image. Devices can record information about the image such as megapixels, camera mode, the date, time and GPS coordinates of where and when the image was recorded. All of this is stored in the EXIF data, an extra piece of information attached to every picture file your camera creates.
Geotagging is when a device such as an iPhone, Android smartphone or digital camera stores your location or geographical information, such as your GPS coordinates, within a photo or movie file (such as .jpg or .mov files).
Nearly all smartphone cameras geotag the photos they take. So it is important that you check the settings on all of your cameras, cel phones and other image-recording devices, because you could be disclosing details of your life and you might not even be aware of it.
How to Protect Your Privacy and Disable Geotagging
There are several ways, and some of them are better than others.
iPhone – Go to Settings, General, Location Services. Here you can set which applications can access your GPS coordinates, or disable the feature entirely. If you use your phone’s GPS system to track your children’s whereabouts or to find local restaurants and services on the go – then don’t disable the features entirely.
BlackBerry – Click the camera icon, press the Menu button and choose “Options”. Set the “Geotagging” setting to “Disabled”. Save the updated settings.
Android – Open the Camera application, select “Store Location” and set it to “Off”.
Facebook – removes geotags from uploaded photos, however other social networking sites do not. Look into your privacy settings and turn off location sharing.
Your Digital Camera and Mobile Phone – Make sure to turn off the location sharing settings in your camera and mobile phone. Be extra careful if you are uploading photos to a website where strangers will see them — such as Craigslist or Ebay.
How can I access the GPS information in my pictures?
Some digital cameras geotag photos but most of them don’t. You can check your camera settings by opening up your images on a computer.
Here are a few ways to get the GPS information from your photos.
If you’re using a Mac, you can access your GPS information by simply right clicking on the photo file you want to view and then picking “get info.” This will bring up a box showing all of the EXIF data attached to that particular image file.
It’s a little different on a PC, but it’s pretty much the same thing. Right click on your image, and then pick “properties.” From there, a similar window should pop up showing all the EXIF data, including the location of the picture you just took.