Web Photos That Reveal Secrets, Like Where You Live
By KATE MURPHY The New York Times August 11, 2010
When Adam Savage, host of the popular science program "MythBusters," posted a picture on Twitter of his automobile parked in front of his house, he let his fans know much more than that he drove a Toyota Land Cruiser.
Embedded in the image was a geotag, a bit of data providing the longitude and latitude of where the photo was taken. Hence, he revealed exactly where he lived. And since the accompanying text was "Now it's off to work," potential thieves knew he would not be at home.
Security experts and privacy advocates have recently begun warning about the potential dangers of geotags, which are embedded in photos and videos taken with GPS-equipped smartphones and digital cameras. Because the location data is not visible to the casual viewer, the concern is that many people may not realize it is there; and they could be compromising their privacy, if not their safety, when they post geotagged media online.
Mr. Savage said he knew about geotags. (He should, as host of a show popular with technology followers.) But he said he had neglected to disable the function on his iPhone before taking the picture and uploading it to Twitter.