Are posted videos and photos a treasure trove for pedophiles and thieves?

Just about every service these days seems to have some option to let you post all those cute videos and images to the web. Whether it be Facebook or YouTube we seem to love sharing our daily lives in picture format with anyone who is willing to look.

There is a problem with all those images though. You see every camera these days has the ability to add the location of where those images where captured to the picture’s metadata. This metadata can be everything from the speed of the shutter when the picture was taken through to the brand and model number of the camera used.

One of the other things that gets recorded – longitude and latitude of where the picture was taken. This is commonly called geo-tagging and is becoming a common addition in images from camera phones that are ending up on places like Facebook.

The problem is that using readily available tools that geo-tagging data can potentially lead people right to your front door, your children’s front door. As Ben Coxworth points out in a post on GizMag

The practice of tracking people via their posted images is an example of “cybercasing”, and is possible because many digital cameras and smart phones, including the iPhone, automatically geotag their images by embedding the longitude and latitude at which they were taken. Even when uploaded to a website, the images still retain this information. By plugging the coordinates into a service like Google Street View, getting an address or an identifying landmark is entirely possible.

Not only that but these new breed of cyberstalkers are doing the same sort of thing when it comes to video. Just by using some carefully crafted search strings on YouTube they are able to locate homes where the families are away on vacation.

I realize that a lot of these cool new ways to share stuff on the web is a lot of fun but for every good person looking at those pictures of your kids there is someone out there who doesn’t have the same ulterior motives.