Did you think about child safety the last time you snapped a digital photo of your child in their crib, playing in the backyard, or at a school play? It’s a little known fact to non-techies that GPS-enabled smartphones, and even certain digital cameras, can embed location data (known as geogtagging) onto your digital media files.
With location services enabled on my iPhone5, I took a photo of my computer mouse to illustrate and viewed the GPS data using pixelgard, an application that allows you to view image metadata. What you see below is a screenshot from the application of the GPS location for our offices.
I then clicked on the geolocation link in the application and here you go, a visual on Google Maps.
If this is all new to you, you’re probably thinking about all the images you and your family have shared online. What information are you giving away?
Following are two examples of how to disable geotagging on two of the most popular mobile phones.
Disabling Location Services For Your Child’s Safety
Note, you can selectively disable only the Camera’s location services.
View And/Or Remove Geotags Before Sharing Pictures And Videos
If you have digital photos you previously took that you would like to share, there are ways you can remove geotags from them. Location data embedded in digital media files is known as Metadata, or EXIF Data (Exchangeable Image File), and is invisible unless you know how to look for it. You can use free tools such as EXIFData to view the data stored in your digital media files and pixelgard to change or remove geotags.
So next time you’re ready to share a photo or video from one of your digital devices, check first to see if your location services settings are disabled, if not for all services, then for photos only. If you have an existing digital photo, take the time to review the metadata and remove any personal information that could compromise your child’s security.
Think before you share.