Friday, October 18, 2013

When photos get us into trouble

Rob Lurie is a reporter with CTV Montreal, and I was privileged to work with him on a recent trip home to visit our family. The topic was one that should scare us all to our very core: the ability of complete strangers to find us - where we live, where we work, where our kids go to school - by simply analyzing the data embedded in virtually every photo we take.

It's called geotagging, and as more of us take pictures with smartphones and then share them online on social media services like Facebook and Instagram, the privacy and security risks continue to grow. What's really frightening is that few of us are even aware that any of this is happening, or that we're even remotely at risk. Unfortunately, we are.

He put together a report, The Real Picture, that aired yesterday. The report's home page includes a direct link to the report, a link to the preview that Rob recorded with CTV Montreal anchor Mitsumi Takahashi, as well as the promo. As you'll see in the report, it took me 28 seconds to figure out, from a photo that he had emailed me, where his brother lives. As we chatted in my father-in-law's dining room (hats off to Zayda Irving!) it quickly became apparent how easily we're inadvertently sharing precise details of our day-to-day lives with...well, the entire online world.

If you do one thing today, please check the GPS settings on your smartphone and adjust accordingly. And if you're still not sure how it all works, leave a comment here or hit the Contact link and send me an email. I'll be happy to show you how to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Your turn: What are you going to do next to tighten your own online privacy and security? (And, no, being tech-phobic isn't the right answer. As this report drives home, we all need to raise our game.)


Lisa Shafer said...

I'm probably overlooking a lot of things, but I do know the photos I post are GPS-free. I take my pics with a camera manufactured in 2007, before GPS was standard on such things. And, I never bothered to set the date and time on the thing, so, according to the camera, it's still the 1990s. It's more work to transfer the pics to the computer and then post them, but I hope it's hiding at least a few details about me. :)

Lisa Shafer said...

I checked my iPad and found I already had turned off GPS for everything. Go me!