Digital photos could put kids at risk

Feb 09, 2012

A study published in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics this month suggests that parents and carers could be putting children at risk if they upload digital photos that are automatically "geotagged" by their camera.

Joanne Kuzma of the University of Worcester, England, has analyzed photos that clearly show children's faces on the photo sharing site Flickr. She found that a significant proportion of those analyzed were geotagged and a large number of those were associated with 50 of the more expensive residential zip codes in the USA.

The location information could possibly be used to locate a child's home or other location based on information publicly available on Flickr," explains Kuzma. "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."

Geotagging is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media, including photographs. The necessary tools are often built into camera and and either use the or (GPS) to pinpoint a given photo. The tool is very useful for photographers wanting to keep track of the places they shoot. The same technology can also have applications in forensics. Websites such as Flickr and many other photo-sharing and can also utilize this metadata 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.

She says that users should understand the implications of this new technology and post only appropriate data to protect themselves and their children. However, she also adds that, "The industry needs to better inform parents and individuals who post pictures to public websites that geolocation information can have both advantages as well as repercussions, as safety must be a priority."

Explore further: Tweet much to gain popularity is an inefficient strategy

More information: "Children and geotagged images: quantitative analysis for security risk assessment" in International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, 2012, 4, 54-64

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User comments : 3

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PPihkala
not rated yet Feb 09, 2012
Maybe the default for picture sites should be that geotagging data will be deleted from all publicly accessible pictures, unless specifically prevented by the uploader. Or maybe the geotagging info is stripped from the picture while it is downloaded or viewed, unless the picture uploader is accessing it while he/she is logged in. This second one would keep the info for the owner, but would as default not deliver it to other users.
tadchem
not rated yet Feb 09, 2012
According to B.F. Skinner, the behavioral solution to preventing unacceptable behavior (such as exploitation of children) would also require operant conditioning of the person who misbehaves.
One must discourage misbehavior with strong and inevitable negative feedback. This serves to prevent repetition of the undesireable behavior and to discourage others from becoming new offenders.
Along with discouraging the use of geo-tagged images of children online, the offenders should be swiftly and publicly punished in a manner that no sane person would choose to risk having to endure.
Solution part 1: scrub all images of geo-tags.
Solution part 2: torture all captured perps.
Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Feb 10, 2012
Paranoia.

"The location information could possibly be used to locate a child's home or other location based on information publicly available on Flickr," explains Kuzma." - Article

Paranoia [par.rno.] (adjective: paranoid [par.r.nod]) is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself. Making false accusations and the general distrust of others also frequently accompany paranoia

Historically, this characterization was used to describe any delusional state.

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