Posted On 14 Feb 2019
Our smartphones are incredibly powerful devices that open up a world of functionality to us. Using location services, we are able to use our smartphones to navigate the world around us and share our location with our friends and family.
Location services can also geotag our photos with technical data, also referred to as EXIF data. This is useful from a number of perspectives: it means that we are able to see where we enjoyed that special walk or enjoyed an amazing meal.
But it also has a lot of downsides: if that data falls into the wrong hands, it means that the person will be able to track the location. There are a number of reasons that this is problematic: it could mean that stalkers or other criminals are able to know where you are and what you are doing. Imagine, for example, that you upload a non-descript photo while away on business. The data could reveal that you’re away and criminals could you use this to take advantage of you.
It’s also problematic if you share photos of your children. Although it’s not nice to think about, it’s important that you take the right steps to protect them against predators and other bad actors.
Thankfully, it’s easy to remove EXIF data from every photo that you take with your smartphone. You should begin by right clicking on the image on your computer and selecting “properties”. You will not see all of the data and you should go to Location/EXIF data. Here, you will see the option to “Remove properties and personal information”.
When you check this option, it will wipe out the coordinates from the photo and the EXIF data will be purged. This means that the photo is now safe to post online and you should be sure to repeat this step each time that you post.
Taking your online safety seriously can help to protect you and your family. Another step you can take is to turn off the GPS function on your smartphone or digital camera. This will vary from one device to the next, so you should be sure to dig deep into the options and follow specific advice.
Many smartphones will allow you to configure exactly when location services are active. This might be necessary, for example, when you are using Maps. But this doesn’t mean that you should always have location services on.
Be sure to properly understand the risks that EXIF information poses, and how you can remove this information.