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Digital Pictures - Hiding Your Location

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  • Digital Pictures - Hiding Your Location

    Digital Pictures – Hiding your Location

    Many people don’t realise, but digital pictures you have taken “in-situ” when you are looking for artefacts may be recording the exact location of your site. You wouldn’t necessarily want to give that away, would you?

    When you take a picture with a digital camera (or camera built into a phone), it stores information about the camera type, settings and date as metadata embedded within the image file, known as EXIF (Exchangable Image File) data. Smartphones also store the GPS co-ordinates of where the picture was taken and some (but not all) modern digital cameras now also have this feature.

    For cameras (if the feature exists), the default setting is usually “off” and for smartphones it’s usually “on”. For digital cameras, your manual will tell you how to check this (or change it).

    It’s also easy to switch it off for a smartphone. For an iPhone, to prevent “Geotag” data from being recorded on your pictures:

    1. Tap the "Settings" icon from the home screen.
    2. Tap the "Privacy"" menu.
    3. Choose "Location Services" from the top of the screen.
    4. Look for the "Camera" setting and change it from the "ON" position to the "OFF" position. You can do the same for other camera apps such as Facebook Camera or Instagram as well if you so wish.
    5. Tap the "Home" button to close the settings app.

    The procedure should be equally straightforward for other smartphones.

    Removing the Data

    You can strip the Geotag information from photos already stored on your iPhone using an app such as “deGeo” (available from the iTunes App Store).

    On a PC, you can also remove this information via File Explorer. Choose an image file (or a group of files), right click and choose “Properties”. Then click the “Details” tab and click on the “Remove Properties and Personal Information”. The next screen will give you an option to remove the various pieces of metadata that are embedded in the file(s). In some cases, Windows doesn’t manage to delete all the data, but there’s a free utility available from Microsoft called “Pro Photo Tools” available for download here:

    The utility allows you to strip out all the metadata or even edit the data to create a false location for the picture. You could make it look like all your pictures were taken 20 miles away, or at the North Pole if you wanted.
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.