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The Danger Behind Geotagging

As warmer weather and summer approaches, you are probably planning more outdoor activities.  You may be going on summer vacations or visiting theme parks, and your kids may be attending summer camps.  Along with all these activities, you will be taking pictures with cameras.  Taking pictures of these activities seem to go “hand in hand”.  However, if you have one of those new “fancy” digital cameras you may want to think a bit before taking that picture.

One of the coolest features that has been added to many digital cameras within the last few years has been a feature called GPS tagging.  This feature allows the users the ability to attach GPS coordinates to photographs they take.   This comes in really handy for anyone that has a habit of taking pictures from a number of events or trips before downloading them to their computer or before uploading them to their favorite social networking website.   Many times forgetting where they were taken.  By using this feature, you can use the GPS coordinates that have been attached to the photograph via the EXIF data and recall where the picture was taken if you forgot.  So for instance, you can use Google Maps to determine where the picture was taken and then place that information in the caption when you place it on the internet.  However, there is one problem.  Because that data is attached to the image, other people can do the same.

Given our fast pace and very social life styles, many people quickly post their pictures on social media websites within a few minutes of taking them.  If you do this, anyone that is following you on these social networks or, let us say, stalking you can have a very up to date itinerary of your every move.  Even worst, if your kids are doing the same with their camera or cell phone and their social networking account, they are leaving a digital trail.

If you have a camera with this feature, I suggest you pause and think about what you are doing before you use it.  If for instance there are locations or establishment that you frequent, temporarily turn of the GPS tagging feature.  You know where you are at that time.  There is no need to tag that photo.  If you decided that you want to instantly upload picture from your camera or cell phone that has the GPS tagging feature, make sure that the feature is off.  Instead opt for attaching any comments or captions at the time of uploading and exclude your current location in the comments and captions.  Follow these steps to remain safe during your next adventure.

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