I realize that everyone is enamored with this whole location thing and just drooling over being able to share not only what they are doing but where they are doing it.
The only problem is, as we saw with the now shuttered PleaseRobMe site, that we seem to be losing an common sense as to exactly how potentially dangerous t his insane amount of sharing can be.
In our rush to share ad naseum we forget that there is information going along with that cute little check-in or photo we just uploaded. It is this danger that the site called I Can Stalk U is purporting to point out to the world.
The principal is pretty simple. Just about every single digital camera being sold has the ability to to add all kinds of data to the image (called EXIF metadata) and one of those pieces of data is what is termed as geotagging data. This means that the GPS location data of where you took the picture becomes part of that image’s metadata and with just a few lines of code that information can be read by anyone.
Using that information as their base developers Ben Jackson, Larry Pesce, and a security research team called Mayhemic Labs created the I Can Stalk U site. Using data from the public Twitter stream they separate out the messages that have images associated with them and then in apparently near real-time re-posts them to the I Can Stalk U site but edited to show the location data.
According to Sarah Perez the site developers justify doing this under the guise of it being a warning to people about just what they are really sharing.
The site’s authors explain that anyone, by analyzing your photos, could find out where you live, who else lives there, your commuting patterns, where you go for lunch, who you go with and more.
But who would be interested in all this data?
The developers say “anyone” – from “a government to a nosy neighbor.” That may sound a little tin foil hat to you, but there is some value in understanding the nature of geotagged and how it reveals your location when shared instantly via social networking sites. If you’re a high-profile person, like a celebrity or executive, for example, you may not want this information to be public. More importantly, perhaps, if you’re someone who’s been stalked in the past, or have a dangerous ex-significant other of some kind, you may also need to take additional precautions.
I get the warning people of the possible dangers of oversharing but personally I think this was the wrong way to go about it.