EXIF Privacy

Privacy, one of those things that many of us take for granted with the assumption that no-one really cares about ‘little old me’. To be honest, I have the same opinion most of the time. No, I don’t go around posting my address on the internet, or scanning my tax returns for all to see, but privacy has never really bothered me… until today (dum, dum, duuuuummmmm 😉

So.. here I was sat in my chair when my 2 month old kitten decided to jump onto my book and fall asleep. As you do, I grabbed for my iPhone and took a quick picture, thinking to myself how much I needed to show the people on twitter how cute he was. So I did the usual, visited http://twitpic.com and was just about to upload my image when I thought of something… just how much could someone tell about me from just this one cute photo? Well it turns out quite a lot, what I had neglected to do was to turn off the GPS tagging facility on my iPhone. Sure enough, I opened up the EXIF data of the JPEG and there was my GPS location!!

This set off a bit of an alarm in my mind, if I nearly got caught out by this (and I do consider myself to be quite computer savvy), how much information was out on the internet embedded within a simple JPEG image? Browsing on google images, and quite a few blogs I was amazed to find GPS information in so many photos, it was unbelievable and quite scary (example: visit http://photobucket.com/images/taken%20with%20iphone/ and you will see just how much GPS information is shared)

It’s good to note that many of the large social networking sites (facebook, MySpace, bebo etc) do seem to strip out this information, but many do not such as photobucket !

Next time you take a photo, I would advise running a program such as FxIF (FireFox plugin). You may be amazed at just how much information you are sharing with the world.

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