Friday, March 25, 2011

Smart Phone Users Putting Kids At Risk With Geotagging

If you have a smart phone and enable the GPS feature you could be putting your children, yourself or others at risk because of geotagging.

I'll try and put this in layman's terms for those of you who don't speak geek.

Geotagging = GPS location stored in your applications and photos. The GPS function on your phone can be a great feature, but it can also cause problems.

When you use these GPS enabled devices and take pictures, the pictures have stored in the picture file the GPS location you were at when the picture was taken. This is a great feature if your going through old photos and can't remember where you were when you took the picture.

Not so great when you start sharing your photos with friends and family. You post on Facebook, Twitter, an online photo album, family blog or anywhere on line. Once you share this photo, anyone who can access the photo can also access the location information in the photo. Your first thought may be so what, who cares? 

Well think about this. With geotagging / GPS enabled you post a picture of your child at school. This is now a picture of your child with his/her school's location on it, online for all the pervert's to have access to.

Or how about this senario. Your teenage daughter is at the local High School football game, she has a smart phone. She take's pics of her friends and posts them to her facebook page. Now the pervert knows to go to the football game to find her. Will you be there to protect her when the predator shows up? Probably not. Make your kids aware of this problem and consider carefully which options a child's phone can use. Me I would lock the settings on  their phone so they cannot change them, and check the phone often, there are work arounds.

I know I can be kind of geeky sometimes, but most people I know, know how to copy a picture from a website. Two clicks its yours. I can guarantee you the predators know how to do this.

Are you hiding from an abusive ex... Your not very hidden if you post pictures with your GPS information.

The easiest way to stop posting this information for all to see is to disable geotagging on your smartphone. You must disable the GPS - geotagging feature before taking the picture. Disabling it before you post/share the picture is too late.

Once you disable the GPS, none of the programs using GPS will work, like mapping and Four Square. So if you must use these other features, learn how to turn that GPS on and off, so you can turn it off before taking pictures.

I'm sure there is a photo software out there that will edit the GPS information off of the picture before sharing it. This would be a good investment as an alternative to turning off the GPS. Then you can just edit the GPS location off of problematic pictures before sharing them. The downside is you have to remember to edit the picture before sharing it.

Click here for a list of phones and how to disable this feature.

Smart phones are often singled out in this discussion, but I would be wary of this problem for any GPS enabled device.

Train Your Brain! 
Think Twice Before You Share!

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