London, Feb 10 (IANS) Parents could be putting their children at risk if they upload digital photos that are automatically “geotagged” by their camera, a study reveals.
Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media, including photographs. The tools are often built into camera and camera phones and either use the mobile networks or global positioning system (GPS) to pinpoint a given photo.
Researcher Joanne Kuzma from the University of Worcester, England, has analyzed photos that clearly show children’s faces on the photo sharing site Flickr, the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics reported.
Kuzma found that a significant proportion of those analyzed were geotagged, a large number of those being linked with 50 of the more expensive residential zip codes in US, according to a university statement.
“Publishing geolocation data raises concerns about privacy and security of children when such personalized information is available to internet users who may have dubious reasons for accessing this data,” explained Kuzma.
The location information could possibly be used to locate a child’s home or other location based on information publicly available on Flickr, added Kuzma.
Flickr and many other photo-sharing and social networking sites can also utilize geotagging or allow users to add the appropriate geotags to their photos manually.
Kuzma found that all the zip code locations analyzed had geotagged images of children, new babies in and around the family homes, all searchable in the public areas of the site.
All of the geotagged images could easily be superimposed on a map of a given area, which Kuzma suggests might pose a significant security and privacy risk.