So this post has come about by one of my friends posting the below video from LiveLeak on Facebook which is quite terrifying if you are a parent. But have no fear I will tell you how to stop people from tracking you or your child.
Some cameras, smartphones and tablets add location data to each picture you take. This means that anyone who wants to can see the exact longitude and latitude of the image. Geotagging data is wonderful for finding out where a picture was taken. However, it may not be obvious if you don’t know how to view it. For those who want to find out whether photos have been geotagged before posting them online, it is important to know how to check. The process is simple and helps to have better control over your pictures.
Is Your Camera Geotagging
Before viewing or checking for location data, you should know whether your camera is geotagging your pictures. Any camera you use must have GPS enabled in order for geotagging to occur. This is most common in smartphones, but some digital cameras have this capability as well. Without this feature, no location data is embedded in images. Remember that this data, called EXIF data, is invisible unless you know how to look for it.
What You Need
To view EXIF data, all you need is a web browser. There is no need to download extra software on your computer. Navigate to Jeffrey’s EXIF Viewer. Unlike many other tools available, this one keeps it simple and focuses on location information so you don’t have to sort through a lot of unnecessary data. Another benefit is the wide variety of file types that are supported. You would have to have some extremely rare file types for this tool not to work for you.
Using Jeffrey’s EXIF Viewer
This tool provides two different options for viewing geotagged images. The first allows you to view information from images already online. The second allows you to check images before they are posted online.
For online images, open the picture in your browser. Copy the URL of the image. The quick way is to highlight the URL and press Ctrl + C. Open the browser window with Jeffrey’s EXIF Viewer. Paste (Ctrl + V) the URL into the Image URL box. Press View Image At URL. You will see a few details about the camera, the date the image was taken and finally the location data along with a map.
For images stored on your computer, press Browse beside the Local Image File box. Choose the file in question and press View Image From File. You will see the same data the online option.
Here is a picture I took in the summer of an exhibition about the activist group Anonymous
Now right click on the image and select ‘Copy Link Address’
Navigate to http://regex.info/exif.cgi and pastie the link into the URL Image box
Hit ‘View Image at URL’ and there you go.
Although the image on the page is a bit small, you can see tones of data including an arrow pointing to the Museum of London in the UK which is correct.
Now just imagine if this was a picture of your child on a social media site and the person viewing wanted to track them or their school down. Have no fear the following steps will tell you how to stop this from happening.
What can you do to protect yourself from stalkers and other bad guys using geotags to track you down?
Consider turning off location services on some location sharing apps
Find the location sharing settings on your smartphone and turn off the ones that you think might pose a personal safety risk. You can always turn them back on later if you want to.
Most smartphones will let you turn off location sharing for individual apps as an alternative to turning them off globally.
There are some apps such as ‘Find My iPhone’ that you won’t want to disable location sharing on. If you do disable location sharing on apps like ‘Find My iPhone’, then your phone won’t be able to relay its position and you won’t be able to find it using the ‘Find My iPhone’ service should it get lost or stolen.
Remove geotags from your digital photos
Consider turning off the location sharing setting of your phone’s camera app as well so that the GPS info does not get recorded as part of the picture’s meta data, this will save you the hassle of having to strip out the location data later on.
How do I turn off Geotaging on my Smart phone
Android 4.2 phones
- Start camera application
- Hit the Settings button
- Scroll down and find the GPS Tag option and turn it off
In older versions, the option may be called “Store Location,” but is it essentially the same process.
BlackBerry 6.0 and 7.0
RIM suggests through the online documentation that disabling geotagging be done on BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which would work from an admin’s point of view if an agency uses BES. If not, to turn the setting off on an individual BlackBerry phone:
- Open Camera
- Set the Location icon to “Disabled”
For some earlier versions, hit the Menu and Option buttons before changing the setting.
iPhone 4 and 5
- Go to Settings
- Select General
- Select Location Services
- Set Camera to “Off”
For older versions users can’t really turn off geotagging for the camera without disabling it for all applications. But location warnings can be set to go off when an application is using them.
Windows Phone 7 and 8
- Go to Settings
- Navigate to Applications
- Scroll down to Pictures & Camera
- Set “include location (GPS) info in Pictures you take” to “Off”
I hope this has put your mind at ease, but if you do have any question please contact me. Also please share this on social media sites and on friends pages.