Using smartphone images that might include map location information

Started by John Raabe, March 18, 2014, 06:58:40 PM

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John Raabe

ALERT - There are browser add-ons and extension apps that can read and report data on forum images that are taken with smartphones with geotagging (GPS) turned on. This so called EXIF data is stored with the image and can include make, model, aperture, date, etc. and, if you have GPS tagging turned on, the location where the photo was taken. The most sensitive of this data is location as free software exists that can read and open that data in Google Maps. You may not want that.

Photo storage sites such as Photobucket, which many members use, can turn off this data in the User Settings, Privacy section. Storing and allowing this information to be read is the default, but I have set my Photobucket account to the following. You may want to do the same... or simply turn off the GPS when you take photos (and save some battery life as well).

None of us are as smart as all of us.


Windows has the ability to remove personal EXIF information built in. Select a photo or group of photos in Windows Explorer, right-click and hit Properties. Under the Details tab, you'll find a link (near the bottom of the window) that says "Remove Properties and Personal Information". Click that, and hit OK in the window that comes up. You'll have a copy of each photo in that same folder. The copied photos will be the one with clean data. You can also customize to remove data selectively and leave info you might want.   

I also found freeware software available to do this. Also later versions of Photoshop has the ability to remove personal data when files are saved using the "save for web" option.
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.

John Raabe

Here's how to turn off location tagging on a iPhone.

On my iPhone I went into Settings, Privacy, Location services and was able to turn off the tagging of photos. I left it on for Chrome, Google, the various Map programs and such.

Apple says: "Location Services uses GPS along with crowd-sourced Wi-Fi hotspot and cell tower locations to determine your approximate location." In addition there is more interesting information in the link to "Location Services and Privacy".
None of us are as smart as all of us.


On Android 4, turning off GPS is:

Settings > Location > On / Off

The Google default camera app has  a setting under: Configuration > More Options > Location > On / Off

Individual apps often but not always have this as an option.

As Apple showed a few years back, just because you turn location services off, does not mean they are really off.  Chances are good that your recent phone or camera is phoning home with your location.  But location stamping on images should be able to be controlled.