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EXIF Data Exposes Privacy: Beware and Take Heed

Gone are the days when we try to label the date and location on the back of the photo or an album. Now everything is been digitalized. With technology, the risk as we consistently highlight chases. Many would be unaware of what information exactly we provide to viewers when we transfer our photos online or display on various social networking platform.

 

In this digital world, it’s really hard to keep the track of information or the main use of certain features. Just take a minute and think about this “Are you sure, how do all the functions and options you have in your mobile phone works? Or how it is being used or misused?”

 

Sure, it will be a big NO. Only a very few tech people and tech savys have ideas about all these features and how it works.

‘A picture speaks more than thousand words’ it is bound inevitably that it can even speak about your geo location, the device used and a plethora of private details when left unattended.

 

It is a plausible happening which is not addressed by many due to the wider catering audience it reach. Awareness always doesn’t reach the person who needs the information to safeguard rather its pitfall reaching miscreant who misuses it against victims.

 

Being a wanderlust who enjoys clicking selfies? Everyplace and every country is now in the hands of the traveler, thanks to location tracking and mapping. We are in hassle free transits without any guide. Every smartphone let you to enable location service and few apps make it mandatory to use location to access its service.

 

Have you ever thought the technique used to sort and segregate files will act as a tool to collect location details in all the photos we capture. Every detail is being watched and stored in the photos properties.

Yeah you got it right, all the way we were chewing the fat on the EXIF data attached to the snaps we click.

 

What is EXIF data? EXIF is short for Exchangeable Image File, a format that is a standard for storing interchange information such as

  • Camera manufacturer and model
  • Shutter speed
  • Exposure compensation
  • Compression type used for the photo
  • F number
  • Metering system
  • if a flash was used
  • ISO number
  • Pixel resolution
  • Date and time the image was taken
  • Modified Information
  • White balance
  • Compression Type
  • Auxiliary lenses that were used resolution

Some images may even store GPS information so you are exposing vulnerable private information without you realise.

 

What can you do?

If you are someone who values privacy then make sure you disable geo tagging from the pictures. Toggle on the location only in case of need otherwise make sure you disable that option. In case of uploading to social sites that automatically includes EXIF data take a vigilant step to turn off it in app settings or scrub the metadata with various tools to remove it before you sent or upload.

Applications where EXIF data is preserved

Google photos or icloud photos: It got settings to remove it from individual photos.
Flicker, Tumblr: Default display the details unless you hides it in settings.
Facebook, Instragram, Whatsapp, Twitter, Reddit: Not explicitly shows, strips the metadata while upload.

Few companies use this data for analytics and business purpose their consumer reports claims.

 

The easiest way people can do is to just take a screenshot of the photo after because screenshots typically don’t capture that same kind of metadata information and sensitive details. The picture file can be opened with a computer to check its properties to delete Exif data especially the geo tagging.

 

Many smartphones we use dont include built-in tool to remove Exif data embedded in photos, but there are various free apps for both Android and iOS devices that will do it for you.

Doxxing for information from unitentional sharing violates the privacy of a User. Privacy is a power, what people inadvertently dont know they cant ruin. So make sure to hide few things and self retrospect our online activities when placing our photos or locations virtually. Spread the awareness: “EXIF data Exposes youself”.

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