Geotages can be assigned to many devices including cameras, webcams, smartphones, video, web sites, SMS messages, and more. They can be useful or harmful depending on your desire to reveal the exact location where it exists.
Soldiers using smartphones
It may be a lot of fun taking pictures of yourself, your buddies, and your surroundings but if you’re in a classified or otherwise sensitive location, you’d better think twice about where you post them.
You can be tagged to the exact location where you are standing. Within minutes of your posting.
A U.S. Army publication Social Media Roundup states, “The Army is always working to protect itself against security breaches, but with new technologies come new risks. Today, more than ever, it is vitally important that Army leaders, soldiers, and Army civilians know what they can do to protect themselves and their families.”
About Geotagging Photos
Certain formats, like JPG or JPEG, allow geographic information to be embedded in the image and can be read by picture viewers. This shows the exact location where the picture was taken! Information on how to turn off this GPS information is found in the camera manufacturer’ User Manual and should be studied and used. If this information is not readily available, call the manufacturer and find out. This may well be the most important lesson you will learn about using your camera or smartphone. Indeed, military personnel who tag an uploaded photo from a sensitive or classified location may be in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Location Based Social Networking
Many internet sites like Facebook are currently very popular for posting pictures. These sites are changing the way we see security and privacy on an individual level. Many of them have literally millions of viewers and can easily perceive the locations taken from iPhone, Android and others. They are automatically active, but these viewing features can be disabled by contacting the site Administrators or Webmasters.
Turn Them Off
THINK before you post. It’s up to you and you are the only one who can do it. To do otherwise may be to expose your home, work, or life, to total strangers…or worse! You can delete geotagged photos, but once the information is out there, even if posted briefly, it’s out of the user’s hands. Be aware and knowledgable about the default functions of any device you are using. A thorough understanding of your specific system and the ability to turn off unwanted functions will go a long way toward your self-protection.
Google Latitude makes it possible to locate friends on Google Maps using GPS technology on mobile phones and Blackberries. Is this useful, or an invasion of privacy?
Ever wished you knew whether your brother was in town for the weekend, or worried about a friend stuck in traffic?
Wonder no longer. On February 4, 2009, Google released a new form of social networking called “Google Latitude.” Using GPS technology to track a person’s location, Latitude makes it possible to know where your friends and colleagues are and to make the same information available to them.
What is Google Latitude?
Google Latitude is a brand new form of social networking.
Latitude uses GPS technology to pinpoint your location (or at least, the location of your mobile phone) and share it on Google Maps with friends you have allowed to receive information about your whereabouts.
This kind of technology isn’t new – other services including Whrll, Loopt, and Helio have provided GPS mobile phone pinpointing. But none of these services had the accessibility that Google has in terms of carriers and phones.
What’s more, Google Latitude also makes it possible to post a brief status message (“out walking the dog”), keep in touch with SMS, Google Talk, or Gmail, or to upload photos from a suitably equipped phone.
Do You Need Special Technology to Subscribe to Google Latitude?
Google Latitude does require specific mobiles, but it won’t for long.
As of its release at the beginning of February, 2009, Google Latitude is available in 27 countries to anyone using a Smartphone.
Android users will be able to get Google Latitude “in the next few days” (2) and soon the same will be possible for iPhone users (and, doubtless, more to come), while anyone lacking the right mobile technology can participate using their laptop.
Is Privacy a Thing of the Past?
Google seems to have addressed the obvious privacy and security concerns despite the fact that, as Chris Dannen puts it, “Latitude keeps track of your friends like so many tagged woodland creatures.”
Google Latitude is opt-in only, and every friend on the system must be approved before they can see your location. Settings allow the user to adjust whether each friend can view your specific location or only a generalized city location.
It is also possible turn off or “hide” the phone’s location at any time (from all friends, or only certain people), and the Google Latitude system does not record any history – it only displays current location (or none, if location is turned off), so Latitude cannot be used to track past movement or predict future location trends.
Google Latitude is a quantum leap forward in social networking technology, and it will be interesting to see how this affects online networking as it becomes available across different mobile technologies.