Security and Posting Photos Online

On BOCN (British Ordnance Collectors Network) a forum member has posted a thread containing a video which describes how photos posted on the web probably contain GPS coordinates on the exact location where the picture was taken. This information is available to anyone who has one of readily available programs that allow people to download all the information recorded by your camera when you take a picture (the information stays with the picture when you post it on line).

The good thing is, apparently the recording of GPS information by a camera can be turned if you know how to access the proper menu. But even if you turn of the GPS, this applies particularly to cell phones, downloading some app’s may turn the GPS back on.

The video is by … rt_by=date

Or if you are on BOCN it is available here: … tos-online


Also, nearly every photo hosting site removes the exif data on uploaded images so this is not a big deal for most people. Especially on this site since you have to use an image host.


That’s good to know!

I can quickly find the street address of just about anyone I’d want to locate, using any one of several sites available on the 'net. Why would finding someone through a posted photo be any more (or less) cause for concern?

Just askin’



Its not necessarily finding someone but what items may be shown in a photo.

Here is an example I can provide. Besides my regular job I also have a part time job working for a local auction company. An auctioneer who works with us on occasion recently related to us his personal experience of what can happen when placing photos on the web with all the associated camera data. This auctioneer was hired to do a primitives/ farm antiques auction about two years ago. One key set of items for the auction was an extensive collection of antique cast iron ornamental windmill weights with some very rare types. These weights were stored in one of several empty grain bins on a farm and they were photographed for the auction at the bin. Photos of items for the sale were taken a shortly before being placed on the auction web sight, several weeks before the sale.

Several days after the photos were posted on the web site all of the windmill weights were found to be missing; the loss was estimate to be around $15,000 to $20,000. Police investigators came to the conclusion that the perpetrators of the theft may have obtained GPS data from the auction site photos and had used online satellite imagery which allowed them to go directly to the grain bin where the weights were located and steal them. Nothing else on the farm was touched. There were sheds full of tools, parts, antiques but nothing else was missing.

Needles to say a lot of jaws dropped to the floor when the police announced their findings as no one involved with the auction had ever heard of such a thing.

The owner had amassed the collection over many years without a problem until the photos (with the associated camera data) were placed on the web.


PS: Just remembered this story from a couple of years ago Insurgents Used Cell Phone Geotags to Destroy AH-64s in Iraq which clearly shows what can happen if GPS data is loaded onto the web with a photo: … s-in-iraq/

If you are using a Window$ PC ,Google this Metability QuickFix a free & highly effective tool for stripping out EXIF & GPS data. There are many ways to do this, but this program is relatively simple to use

As an aside ,not all file hosting sites strip photo data. Some sites will & others require the poster to “opt in” for this to take place.