Photos Taken with Your Smartphone Can Be Used To Track or Stalk You - GeoTagging
August 16, 2013
August 13, 2013
Do you know that photos or pictures taken with most Smartphones are tagged or embedded with the geographic or GPS location information of where the same pictures or photos were taken? Yes, this is possible on almost every Smartphone, which uses a process called GeoTagging. GeoTagging or GeoTag is the process of adding GPS location information to a photo.
Please continue reading below.
With this GPS information embedded in a photo, you will be able tell where the person who took the picture lives, works or even plays. GPS stands for Global Position System and is used to tell exactly where you are located on earth with a GPS receiver. It is this GPS receiver that is built into most Smartphones that is used to determine where you are located on the planet. A lot of persons do not know that their Smartphones are set by default to GeoTag every photo that it takes.
How can someone with access to my photos uploaded to Facebook or somewhere else on the internet, taken with my Smartphone, determine where I live, work or play?
When you take a photo with your Smartphone, it uses the built-in GPS receiver to get your current location (latitude and longitude), which it then stores or embed in the same photo. This embedded GPS information is hidden inside of the photo and is not visible by just looking at it.
When you upload this photo to Facebook, Twitter or somewhere else on the internet, persons who view this photo can use GeoTagging services available for free on the internet, Google Earth or Bing Maps to tell exactly where in the world the photo was taken. Additionally, you can view the street, house, apartment or building where the photo was taken using Google Street View.
Similar, someone can stalk other persons by using the photos taken with their Smartphone that they upload daily to their blog, Facebook Wall/Time and other social networking websites.
Let us see how we can use a GeoTagged photo to determine where someone lives, work or play.
If your children take pictures of themselves at home and post them on Facebook with a Smartphone for their family and friends to see and for some reasons these pictures end up in the hands of a criminal. This criminal will be able to determine where your children live because the location where the pictures were taken (at home) is embedded in the same pictures.
Now, all this criminal has to do is to extract the embed GPS location from the pictures and use Google Earth to tell where the children in the pictures live. Also, this criminal may be able to get a three dimensional view of the children’s front yard using Google Street View.
In order to prevent your Smartphone from storing this GPS information in the photos that you take, you may turn this feature off. Please search your Smartphone manual or online for instructions to turn off or disable GeoTagging, GPS, or Location Tracking.
There are applications for your personal computer and Smartphones that are available online for free, which you can use to secure your photos from disclosing your GPS location information by removing the Geotags. You may go to Google.com and search for the keywords: “How Remove GeoTags from photos”.
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