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The Hidden Security Risk of Geotags 175

Posted by timothy
from the process-of-elimination dept.
pickens writes "The NY Times reports that security experts and privacy advocates have begun warning consumers about the potential dangers of geotags, which are embedded in photos and videos taken with GPS-equipped smartphones and digital cameras. By looking at geotags of uploaded photos, 'you can easily find out where people live, what kind of things they have in their house and also when they are going to be away,' says one security expert. Because the location data is not visible to the casual viewer, the concern is that many people may not realize it is there; and they could be compromising their privacy, if not their safety, when they post geotagged media online."
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The Hidden Security Risk of Geotags

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  • This is why... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:01PM (#33257964)
    This is why upload services should simply just strip out the un-needed info of the pictures. The original pictures still have the sometimes useful geolocation data, but your Facebook pictures won't.
    • Re:This is why... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:02PM (#33257986) Journal
      After selling it to their advertising partners, of course...
      • Re:This is why... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by farnsworth (558449) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:34PM (#33258168)

        After selling it to their advertising partners, of course...

        Seems kinda pointless. I already get pretty damned accurate location-specific ads, presumably by just looking at my ip. When I connect to my employer's VPN, I get ads for things in the region that that data center is in...

        Would knowing, say, that the majority of interior shots (probably my home) are on one particular city block vs another really be worth that much more to an advertiser?

        • Re:This is why... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:56PM (#33258260) Journal
          Depending on how economically striated the city is, possibly, possibly not.

          I'd assume that they are more interested in pictures taken out and about. Where do you vacation, dine out, meet up with friends, etc?

          As you say, IP geolocation does a pretty decent job for wired connections(I don't know whether wireless carriers will sell out customer locations, and, if so, what the price is); but people take a lot of photos, possibly the majority, away from their primary wired ISP.
        • Re:This is why... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:59PM (#33258280)

          Would knowing, say, that the majority of interior shots (probably my home) are on one particular city block vs another really be worth that much more to an advertiser?

          Yes. They can correlate it with property records and figure out who you are, what bank you have your mortgage with, how much you paid for your house, when you bought it, your likely income level, if you are married (more than one name on the mortgage) and that's just from the primary property records search in some states. Start cross-referencing it with other databases and my guess is that you'll have no secrets at all.

          • Would knowing, say, that the majority of interior shots (probably my home) are on one particular city block vs another really be worth that much more to an advertiser?

            Yes. They can correlate it with property records and figure out who you are, what bank you have your mortgage with, how much you paid for your house, when you bought it, your likely income level, if you are married (more than one name on the mortgage) and that's just from the primary property records search in some states. Start cross-referencing it with other databases and my guess is that you'll have no secrets at all.

            How does having gps data in some photos impact this? All that data is already aggregated and used for less-than-wholesome purposes. Companies like google and flickr already know your identity (or can easily deduce it), so what more info does some exif data leak to advertisers? If I'm a backhanded ad firm, and I get Facebook to sell me the fact that facebookuser02 likely lives at 123 main. Who cares? Aren't there far easier ways to ascertain that?

            Note, this is a separate question from "what does this

            • Companies like google and flickr already know your identity (or can easily deduce it), so what more info does some exif data leak to advertisers?

              Because people need to be aware of and be able to manage the trade-offs of disclosing information. Perhaps they have taken steps to deliberately obfuscate the info disclosed through other channels, but unknowingly disclosing information through geotags waters down the effectiveness of the other precautions they have taken.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Trailer Trash (60756)

              I was recently alerted to a web site where people can post pics of themselves - with the url implying naked pics. There were women there with iphone pics that had enough exif info to get their street address. I would venture to guess that when they put their pics there they didn't think it would be possible to determine who they were or where they live.

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by Anonymous Coward

                I was recently alerted to a web site where people can post pics of themselves - with the url implying naked pics

                Yeah, right. Man up and just post where you were surfing.

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by Anonymous Coward

                I was recently alerted to a web site where people can post pics of themselves - with the url implying naked pics. There were women there with iphone pics that had enough exif info to get their street address. I would venture to guess that when they put their pics there they didn't think it would be possible to determine who they were or where they live.

                URL please?

        • But, if they can better pinpoint your location to a few meters, they can start trying to send you spam in the mail, or, maybe even sell your information to those people search sites. More metrics always helps. It can even work to become a stronger confirmation of your location, if your IP and geotags all match.
        • by MikeFM (12491)

          If I was selling Bob's Pizza I could do a search for a Pizza Hut logo and then pitch my product to you.

    • Re:This is why... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:03PM (#33257990)

      This is why people shouldn't be so casual about publishing every detail of their personal life for the world to see. These micro-celebrity wannabes should wake up and recognize that their lack of privacy makes them easy targets.

      • Re:This is why... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:34PM (#33258164) Homepage Journal
        While I agree with you, some metadata problems are much more subtle and insidious.

        How many of you have ever written "my boss is an idiot" on a word document at work, as a joke, then erased it?

        Better hope your boss isn't savvy. [addbalance.com]

        Which is why I believe that any Joe-user program which processes documents or media should offer a checkbox and.or dialog explantion offering the user to strip the metadata from saved documents or media. Before any of you say, "stripping is already available", keep in mind how many co-workers don't even know what cookies are.
        • Re:This is why... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:37PM (#33258180)

          Before any of you say, "stripping is already available", keep in mind how many co-workers don't even know what cookies are.

          You insensitive clod! My coworkers are all CS grad students.

          Seriously though, they don't take any steps to strip metadata, even though it is well within their technical ability to do so, and even though they are generally aware of the risks.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          Silly, everyone knows what cookies are. Grandma makes them every Christmas and sends them to the family.

          It doesn't help that the name "Cookie" is something they already know about that sort of turns on the "I hear what you are saying but not paying attention because I already know" switch. Of course then you have the problem of unique words making a simple statement like "defragmenting or chkdsk'ing your root drive" sound like a foreign language.

          This doesn't invalidate your point, it's meant to reinforce it

          • That explains why nobody realized that my recommendation that they "toss their cookies" was security advice.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bennomatic (691188)
        Serious. With a combination of Blippy and FourSquare, you don't even need geotagged pictures. I mean, anyone following your Twitter stream could take advantage of this sequence of events:

        - So-and-so checked into their house at 123 Main Street, Hometown USA! So-and-so is now the mayor of their house!
        - So-and-so bought a new MacBook Pro for $3297 using Blippy at the Apple Store in Winston Niles Rumfoord Shopping Center!
        - So-and-so checked into the Relax'em Spa.
        - So-and-so bought a 1 hour massage and
        • You would have to be an unbelievably stupid robber to target a house based on this sort of thing. The assumption that because I'm going out somewhere my house will be entirely empty is wrong probably as often as it's right. Just cause I'm at a Spa for a 2 hour massage doesn't mean that my roommate or house guest (you know the 250lb ex-marine police officer) isn't still hanging around. Pretty much anything short of a tweet saying "Hi, my house will be completely vacant for the next 4 hours" will not tell you

          • by nahdude812 (88157) *

            It gives you better information than you could get without access to that information. As supplemental information to a traditional casing, it can dramatically reduce the likelihood of bumping into someone (such as when you ring the doorbell in your workman's uniform to double check there is in fact nobody home) who might remember your face.

            In addition, with the geotagged photos, you could be seeing what theft targets there are on the premises. Big screen TV, new camera, new computer, etc., but also less

    • Re:This is why... (Score:4, Informative)

      by BitterOak (537666) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:22PM (#33258102)

      This is why upload services should simply just strip out the un-needed info of the pictures. The original pictures still have the sometimes useful geolocation data, but your Facebook pictures won't.

      But is it wise to be trusting your services (i.e. Facebook) to take these extra steps to protect your privacy? Wouldn't it make more sense to have an educated consumer base who can be careful what they upload in the first place? At the very least, the value of this information to marketers would make it unlikely that free, online services like Facebook would simply throw this valuable data away. It would make more sense for consumer electronic devices to do a better job of informing the user of what information is "hidden" in the media files they create, with a default off option for anything "hidden".

      • Re:This is why... (Score:4, Informative)

        by odies (1869886) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:31PM (#33258150)

        I always use IrfanView [irfanview.com] to pre-process my pictures before uploading them anywhere. You need to do that anyway (original pictures are usually huge 4000+ pixels wide and forums usually limit you to less than 1280px). When you're saving the image, it shows check boxes to remove all extra information from the pictures (usually camera model and shooting options and so on). Easy. And yeah, it's an awesome and light image viewer and you can edit images too.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BatGnat (1568391)

      What crap, Why should it be the Hosting sites responsibility?

      You sent them the file. It is your file. If you dont want geotags in the file, then clean the file first.

    • This is why upload services should simply just strip out the un-needed info of the pictures.

      Why is it up to the upload service? Right now people have 100% control over their information and can strip whatever data they like. You might argue the upload service could provide a tool to help them do it more easily by setting preferences (which they could alter on a per upload basis). However I don't want a provider determining what information I can or can't attach to the photos. What if I'm actually trying to put together a map with photos attached. For instance I went to a lot of trouble to combine

      • Because if you are uploading something to Facebook the geolocation info is not going to be any benefit to you, if you resize the pictures and the like, stripping the geolocation is just another step that doesn't harm the uploader. Now, I'd be against stripping geolocation data over something like e-mail, but over something like Facebook or something like Tinypic the geolocation information is not going to be beneficial. If your trying to put together a map with your photos, then use the originals, don't use
    • by soliptic (665417)

      This is why upload services should simply just strip out the un-needed info of the pictures.

      Imgur does do that.

    • by xenobyte (446878)

      In my own galleries I used "wrjpgcom -replace -comment ''" to strip all EXIF/IPTC from the files. Works like a charm and it's fast and efficient.

  • Even if I create a pdf now, I have to wonder what sort of hidden meta data crap it contains.
    • > I have to wonder...

      No you don't. You could look.

  • by Palestrina (715471) * on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:09PM (#33258028) Homepage

    OMG, letters have post marks and tell what town the sender lives in!

    OMG, caller ID gives my phone number to people that I call!

    OMG, the Registry of Deeds lists my address and how much I paid for the house!

    OMG, the phone book list my name, phone number and address!

    We've been dealing with stuff like this for decades, right? I think the danger is more about the contents of your tweets ("I am on vacation") than the metadata ("I live here"). I can probably find your address if I wanted, even without Flickr metadata.

    Of course, metadata can lie as well. Maybe I want to say, "I have a big coin collection" in Twitter and put photos of it all over the place on the web, but with false geotag data to make it look like it came from someone else's home. Because of that risk, even those who do not use Twitter, or the iPhone or Flickr are also at risk. Gee. maybe we should just lock our doors at night.

    • Right, who would have ever thought that taking pictures of your stuff, then posting those pictures online would let people know what kind of stuff you have?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      iPhones contain the long/lat of the place where the picture was taken. That's a little bit more than "letters have post marks and tell what town the sender lives in!". Don't be naive. Look at the Sherlock Holmes shit that 4chan does *regularly* with things such as EXIF data.

      There was a famous thread on there once where a 30 year old guy was professing how much he wanted to sleep with his 16 year old niece's friend. Using nothing but the emblem of her school mascot on the front, 4chan tracked HIM down an

    • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:50PM (#33258232) Homepage Journal

      OMG, letters have post marks and tell what town the sender lives in!

      You believe that having a creep know the town you live in is the same as the creep knowing your GPS coordinates?

      No, we haven't been "dealing with stuff like this for decades", because until recently corporations have not had the capacity to have such persistent and precise data about you that they could monetize.

      That picture of your 8 year old daughters that you put on the Internet has data that somebody will sell to the highest bidder, and I doubt they're going to make sure the highest bidder isn't a registered sex offender. I'm usually very suspicious of these kind of "consider the children" appeals, but the personal minutiae that is being commoditized by businesses has reached a point where it's going to be very hard to roll back.

      You've got one of the biggest corporations in the world collecting very private information, selling it to the highest bidder and then getting into bed with the most repressive regimes on Earth and at the same time forming "strategic alliances" with other huge corporations to subvert the effective net "neutrality":that has been in place since the beginning. And Palestrina thinks that's the same as having your name and number voluntarily listed in the phone book. And his rationalization is that it's OK because if you know what you're doing you can falsify your metadata. Don't you see the problem here?

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        We have no more or less anonymity or privacy than ever. What's changed is the cost for a given person to get all they can. There used to be cost/trouble to follow someone around. Now the equivalent info, and no more, is available in easier and cheaper methods.
      • by 5KVGhost (208137)

        "You believe that having a creep know the town you live in is the same as the creep knowing your GPS coordinates?"

        Sigh. If you're a homeowner that same creep can easily discover exactly where you live, when you moved in, and how much you paid. It's public information. Not secret. Never was.

        And the fact that you have kids, and their ages? Also not secret. Never was.

        And do you know why it's not secret, and never was? It's because this is most emphatically not "very private information". It's stuff that any re

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          Sigh. If you're a homeowner that same creep can easily discover exactly where you live, when you moved in, and how much you paid. It's public information. Not secret. Never was.

          Sigh. But those public records don't include pictures of your kids.

          Let's give the government unlimited access to monitor, regulate, and ration our electronic communications.

          You've got no problem giving that same power to private corporations, over which you have absolutely no control. That's not touching, that's frightening.

          And no

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by rundgong (1575963)
      Yeah, you are absolutely right, the location is not that big of a deal. What's worse is that the pictures have dates embedded.
      With the dates there on your vacation pictures the thieves can just go back in time and rob your house and know for sure that you wont be back for several days.

      THIS is what we really need to be worried about.
    • When you call an individual, you give one person your phone number. When you mail someone, you give one person your address. And often, you want them to have your number and address. Cell phones aren't listed. A geotagged photo might be available to millions of people.

      To use a register of deeds, wouldn't you need to have an actual address to start with?

      Metadata can lie, but the tools to make it lie are hardly convenient.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by adolf (21054)

        To use a register of deeds, wouldn't you need to have an actual address to start with?

        In my county in Ohio, I can look up properties by name, address, or just by selecting them from a map. The map also includes aerial photos of sufficient resolution to put Google Earth to shame.

        It's all on the Web, and it's free. Google around for your county's auditor, and you'll probably find a very similar system.

  • by xiando (770382) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:09PM (#33258034) Homepage Journal
    http://www.sentex.net/~mwandel/jhead [sentex.net] is a nice Exif Jpeg camera setting parser and thumbnail remover. Try it and get scared. Geotags are new, but the problem has been there for years. The "hidden" parts of images give away camera model, camera time, camera serial number and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Always open and save images in some editor such as GIMP before uploading them to the Internet(s). This is a good idea anwyay as viewers will generally be more happy if you crop the picture, perhaps adjust the color balance etc.
    • by Inda (580031)
      Consumer image manipulators often keep the EXIF data intact. Especially if the user just clicks the save, or save as button.

      Websites should strip this data before displaying the image.
  • Help! (Score:5, Funny)

    by TyFoN (12980) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:17PM (#33258084)

    Help, they can see me going into my house!
    They will know where i live..
    WHERE IS MY TIN FOIL HAT?!?!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      WHERE IS MY TIN FOIL HAT?!?!

      Last Friday it was on your nightstand, you might want to look there first.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      WHERE IS MY TIN FOIL HAT?!?!

      See, if your pictures of your tinfoil hat had geolocation data attached on them, you'd be able to find it!

      • by sumdumass (711423)

        His pictures did have geolocation data attached on them which is why I found his tin foil hat and his high dollar camera which was sitting right next to it. BTW, who uses a VCR anymore. I guess I should have looked at more of the pictures before going over. And that car he claims is his, he must have sold it to the neighbor because that's the driveway it was sitting in when I stopped by at 4 am last night.

    • by jc42 (318812)

      WHERE IS MY TIN FOIL HAT?!?!

      You left it on the shelf in the downstairs bathroom.

      HTH.

  • You can use the "-strip" command-line option with ImageMagick's "convert" utility to strip out all the metadata from an image prior to uploading it.

  • Easy solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by awtbfb (586638) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:23PM (#33258110)
    Don't post media on unprotected pages. No big loss behind this step. Friends and family can handle a simple user/password combination - we've been doing this for years. Trust me, the rest of the world doesn't really want to see your pictures of the kids at their friend Joey's birthday party.
    • by julesh (229690)

      Trust me, the rest of the world doesn't really want to see your pictures of the kids at their friend Joey's birthday party.

      Specially not at 2048x1536.

  • by volfreak (555528) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:26PM (#33258118)
    OP states "By looking at geotags of uploaded photos, 'you can easily find out where people live, what kind of things they have in their house and also when they are going to be away,'..." How can uploaded photos tell someone when I am going to be away? Can pictures now show us what we'll be seeing and where at some point in time in the future? Neat... So, what setting do I use for my DSLR to get it to show me where I'll be going and when I'll be away? I want to see what's ahead of me.... Maybe it can show that I am currently away but how can it show when I'm going to be... anything? Oh, now I get it... I should take a picture of my airline tickets or hotel booking and post those on line... Yeah, that's how they'll know....
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tentux (1855140)
      Agreed, the OP may have over-stretched what can be concluded from photographs alone. I think what they were getting at was using geo-tagged photographs and other evidence such as tweet posts and facebook status updates, and indeed advertising your GPS position could all be used to conclude you're on holiday, plus you've photographed where your house is and all of the nice stuff that's in it. However, unless you make a habbit of uploading all of this information to an entirely public domain I'm not entirely
    • by horatio (127595) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @03:44PM (#33258206)

      You make a good point. If I'm going to break into someone's house, a good time to do it would probably be between 9am and 5pm Monday-Friday. Most thefts are crimes of opportunity, not premeditated Oceans-Eleven style. I could just sit out in front of their house in the morning and wait for them to leave for work. No pictures or geotags needed. With a just a couple of guys, I can clean the place out in about 10-15 minutes. Where I live, assuming someone notices and phones the cops, that is about twice the time needed before dispatch will finally put the call through to officers.

      Took the cops more than an hour to show up for a suspicious person sitting in his car one morning doing what appeared to be casing a house in my neighborhood. More recently, took them 30 minutes to show up after a call about a man banging on the neighbor's door, yelling and threatening to kick it in.

      The most effective deterrent is one of those 'ADT' type stickers. After that, the dog. If that doesn't work, a double-tap to the center of mass should end things rather abruptly.

    • How can uploaded photos tell someone when I am going to be away?

      It's not out of the question. See my other comment [slashdot.org].

    • by boxwood (1742976)

      Well the metadata shows the time and place of the photo. If I post a photo I just took while on vacation 200 miles away from home, someone could see that as of a certain time I'm 200 miles from home and not likely to be back home for at least 10 hours or so.

      That being said I doubt robbers are going to be reloading your blog every hour just to see if you posted a pic indicating you're not at home. And of course it only works if you post the pic shortly after taking it. If you wait a couple of days before pos

  • Presumptively a 'safe' geotag is one that the user has control of.

    The user should have options (A) No geotag [the default], (B) Fuzzy geotag that may reveal what city or state they are in, but not their actual location, (C) Hi-Res Geotags

    Their phone should ask them how detailed the Geotag should be before they take pictures.

    Their graphics software / picture sharing websites should ask what to do with Geotags before uploading.

    e.g. (A) Hide/remove all geotags, (B) Only let friends see GeoTag i

    • by grumbel (592662)

      I think the core thing that needs to be solved in general is that of "invisible data". Most software makes it not exactly easy to see what exactly is stored in a file, instead it just provides you a stripped down view with most of the metadata hidden. This doesn't just happen with image files, but also Word documents, PDFs and plenty of other things.

  • and set the GPS coordinates to that of your local cop shop, or perhaps to someone who you don't like :-)

    Still, it is a pain to have to do & think about. Gimp has an exif option, I have not used it.

  • by cybereal (621599) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @04:08PM (#33258316) Homepage

    It's worth pointing out that not all services are ignorant to this issue. I use flickr and upload geotag information for every picture I take, but, nobody can see it unless they are someone I've accepted as a contact. You can ratchet things up a bit further and use their added friend and family classes for even more restriction. You can also reveal the data on a photo by photo basis if you don't mind it being seen (or actually want it available, like a photoshoot of interesting things in a public place.)

    I'm sure other similar photo sharing sites have similar permissions capabilities. I suppose the most likely risk areas are the twitpics and yfrog type upload it and forget it sites.

  • by jo7hs2 (884069) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @04:09PM (#33258326) Homepage
    Potential security issues aside, geotags have always concerned me with the potential for unintended consequences. As someone with a passion for both native orchids and other rare life forms, along with history, I'm always concerned how an innocent snapshot by someone using geotagging might provide detailed location data to a poacher or pothunter. I've already seen a few plant populations decimated by a mere Flickr post, and I know I've seen geotags for the same species at other locations. I think it is a feature that should be disabled by default and used only with caution.
  • This is pretty obvious. Without even going into detail, once you know what "geotags" are, the first thing that comes to mind is "oh crap. this could be a big problem."
  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @04:28PM (#33258406) Homepage

    I actually mean that literally. We go on and on about various privacy risks and on and on about how stupid "average people are" when there are some obvious patterns of behavior outside of computing/networking that shed some real light on where the problems originate.

    People simply don't understand the world they live in. They don't understand their cars, their food (c'mon diet coke? really? that nutrasweet that slows your metabolism?) or just about anything? They might think they know some things but not really understand them and nor do they really care to. The people get "flu shots" every year not knowing what strains of influenza are actually being covered by this year's flu-shot-du-jour... they just expect "the experts" to know and to do what they are told.

    So who are these experts that the masses follow? Whoever claims to be. The dairy council, for example (you know, the guys who make their living selling dairy products?) tell us every year to drink even more milk than last year. And Microsoft, the company who helped to make "computer virus" a household word and cares more about selling the same thing over and over again instead of redesigning an OS that is both easy and secure. And a lot more. The people who have the most to gain by people being stupid are the "experts." And of course, questioning is something that is beaten out of us by the time we get through the first years of public school so there's no chance of a renaissance happening any time soon... at least not without a dark ages preceding it.

    The problem is much, much larger than just being aware of meta-data in a picture. And yes, I agree with some here who suggest that "these online services should really have our backs" on this sort of thing, but it's not really in their interests to do so... so why would they?

  • ...if not their safety, when they post online.

    So don't do it. Someone may find out that you exist.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @04:32PM (#33258422) Journal

    For those who have forgotten, Google is trying to do location based analysis without the geotags - you send them a picture of a place, they tell you where it is (well, what it is for right now). No geotagging necessary.

    Of course, Picasa is kind enough to mark each geotagged picture with a google map pin in the preview window - so you at least know which pics have the metadata in the tags.

  • by supradave (623574)

    Why not just have a camera setting that says "Do not record geotag data within 1 minute of my selected location(s)"? Seems that would be the easiest fix. No extra processing needed.

  • This is odd (Score:4, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @06:52PM (#33259218)
    It seems that quite a few geotags on the porn I download are at my house. The time stamps are when I'm at work.
  • The real problem is that people are uploading their private photos to public places in the first place. It's already an invitation to crime, stalking, and government and business interference in private affairs. Why have people abandoned one of our most cherished rights so easily?

    Sure, if you must upload pictures of you getting drunk or your new gadget at least strip the tags, but how about only sharing it with your friends using a more private method instead?

  • by jrumney (197329) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @08:33PM (#33259730) Homepage

    By looking at geotags of uploaded photos, 'you can easily find out where people live, what kind of things they have in their house and also when they are going to be away,*'

    [*] Separate purchase of time machine required for viewing geotags on photographs from the future.

  • Masterminds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cruciform (42896) on Sunday August 15, 2010 @11:08PM (#33260472) Homepage

    There's a pretty big site dedicated to the growing of marijuana, where the users post pictures of their grow operations from behind the "protection" of proxies.
    Just for kicks one day I started checking their pictures. About 20 to 25 percent of them were geotagged. Some of those grows had hundreds, if not thousands of plants. So much for hiding behind a proxy. :)

  • Interesting article in bringing to attention unintentional leaks from cameras, and other devices under your control. However it doesn't address unintentional leaks from devices under someone else control concerning you as the subject. For example if I'm in a public space any number of cameras and video devices can record information about me. From the nearly ubiquitous security cameras, to the same cell-phone cameras nearly all phones have (even the cheap phones) with their EXIF date. How about the next You

  • What do you take pictures more of?

    - Places you DON'T live, like vacation spots or nightlife
    - Your house?

    Where does your GPS work better?

    - Outside
    - Inside

    This article is glossing over some pretty basic details on why this is not a problem. I don't take pictures of my own house, and if I did, the GPS would not work anyway. All anyone snopping on Flickr can figure out from my geo tags is I have been to Vegas and Spain, and guess what, THEY CAN FIGURE THAT OUT LOOKING AT THE DAMN PHOTO ANYWAY.

    • I originally agree with you, but after a little research, I realized that the coordinates in the EXIF corresponds to the last GPS coordinates obtained so, even if you are taking pictures inside your house, your current location is still there (unless you travel - and enter- your house from the underground).
  • Are you James Bond on a secret spy mission? Are you a pedo on the prowl? Are you a mafia hitman? Or are you just egocentric and paranoid?

    No one gives a shit. You're an ant on the ass of an elephant. The elephant doesn't know you exist, much less care about where you went for vacation.

    You're so vain you probably think this post is about you. Don't you?

  • Come on. "These are pictures form Italy, that I took on april 1st, with mi new friends that work for the CIA... bla bla"

    I think that there is even more info to dig form the comments of posted photos than form the EXIF info.
    There is the security risk. Geotags are completely irrelevant in this context.

"Tell the truth and run." -- Yugoslav proverb

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