Cat Photos – GPS – Metadata – EXIF – Your Privacy

Locating cats through gps info on images

Cat Location

The above picture is of the area around Richmond Park, London, where I live. My cat is not listed, thankfully. However, the Florida, USA, guy who created a website showing the location of cats has now expanded the number of cats to about 1 million. There is a genuine risk for people who upload their cat photos to the internet of losing their privacy.

If the location of their cat becomes public knowledge then so is the photographer’s location. Naturally, the same rule applies to photographs of anything they take.

GPS (Global Positioning System) is accurate to about 10-50 feet (3 to 15 metres), approx. 95% of the time depending on the conditions and quality of equipment.

This implies that someone using the cat location website could locate a person’s home through a picture of their cat taken by the home owner. This is an invasion of privacy and the person who set up the website is making that point. It would seem to me that if there is a cat thief in the area this website would help.

Many breeders of purebred cats like to keep their exact location private. I disagree with this because a buyer needs to visit the place. However, the breeders may be revealing their location inadvertently.

Use Camera Settings

It pays to check camera settings and to turn off the GPS element if you want to protect your location.

Deleting Metadata

You can strip metadata from the image using online websites. The best known is Yahoo’s Smush.it™. Another is View and Remove EXIF online.

EXIF Data Files

A while ago I wrote about the way modern cameras and smart phones invisibly embed within the photo a ton of information including where it was taken. This information is called metadata and it is stored in an image file formatted in a certain way: EXIF (Exchangeable image file format).

All modern digital cameras create metadata but not all have the GPS facility to add the location. The photo I took of Gabriel contains this sort of information – see below. When a digital photo is edited the editing software adds its own information and removes the camera-inserted metadata, as I understand it. The GPS function is turned off on the camera I use.

Example EXIF file (it is long to make a point – there is a lot of info) skim it if you wish

Exif data

  • Make – SONY
  • Orientation – Rotate 90 CW
  • X-Resolution – 350 dpi
  • Y-Resolution – 350 dpi
  • Software – DSC-HX20V v1.00
  • Date and Time (Modified) – 2014:11:18 11:42:03
  • YCbCr Positioning – Co-sited
  • ISO Speed – 800
  • Sensitivity Type – Recommended Exposure Index
  • Recommended Exposure Index – 800
  • Exif Version – 0230
  • Date and Time (Original) – 2014:11:18 11:42:03
  • Date and Time (Digitized) – 2014:11:18 11:42:03
  • Components Configuration – Y, Cb, Cr, –
  • Compressed Bits Per Pixel – 1
  • Brightness Value – 3.16953125
  • Exposure Bias – +0.7 EV
  • Max Aperture Value – 5.0
  • Metering Mode – Multi-segment
  • Light Source – Unknown
  • Flashpix Version – 0100
  • Color Space – sRGB
  • File Source – Digital Camera
  • Scene Type – Directly photographed
  • Custom Rendered – Normal
  • Exposure Mode – Auto
  • White Balance – Auto
  • Digital Zoom Ratio – 1
  • Scene Capture Type – Standard
  • Contrast – Normal
  • Saturation – Normal
  • Sharpness – Normal
  • Lens Info – 4.45-89mm f/3.2-5.8
  • Rating – 0
  • Contrast – 0
  • Brightness – 0
  • Long Exposure Noise Reduction – On (unused)
  • HDR – Off; Uncorrected image
  • Face Info Offset – 94
  • Sony Date Time – 2014:11:18 11:42:03
  • Sony Image Height – 1944
  • Sony Image Width – 2592
  • Faces Detected – 0
  • Face Info Length – 37
  • Meta Version – DC7303320222000
  • Creative Style – Standard
  • Scene Mode – Auto
  • Zone Matching – ISO Setting Used
  • Dynamic Range Optimizer – Standard
  • Image Stabilization – On
  • Preview Image Size – 1440×1080
  • Flash Exposure Comp – 0
  • Multi Frame Noise Reduction – Off
  • Picture Effect – Off
  • Soft Skin Effect – Off
  • Macro – Off
  • Exposure Mode – Superior Auto
  • AFIlluminator – Off
  • JPEGQuality – Standard
  • Flash Level – Normal
  • Release Mode – Normal
  • Sequence Number – Single
  • Anti- Blur – On (Shooting)
  • Focus Mode – AF-S
  • High ISONoise Reduction2 – Normal
  • Intelligent Auto – On
  • White Balance – Auto
  • Sequence Image Number – 4
  • Sequence File Number – 1
  • Release Mode2 – Continuous – Anti-Motion Blur, Hand-held Twilight
  • Shot Number Since Power Up – 4
  • Sequence Length – 4 shots
  • Camera Orientation – Rotate 90 CW
  • Quality2 – JPEG
  • Ambient Temperature – 24 C
  • AFArea Mode – Multi
  • Camera Temperature – 26 C
  • Release Mode3 – Normal
  • Stops Above Base ISO – 3.0
  • Brightness Value – 3.16953125
  • HDRSetting – Off
  • Picture Effect2 – Off
  • Metering Mode – Multi-segment
  • WB_ RGBLevels – 520 256 541
  • Interop Index – R98 – DCF basic file (sRGB)
  • Interop Version – 0100
  • Print IMVersion – 0300
  • Compression – JPEG (old-style)
  • Make – SONY
  • Orientation – Rotate 90 CW
  • Software – DSC-HX20V v1.00
  • Modify Date – 2014:11:18 11:42:03
  • Thumbnail Offset – 39150
  • Thumbnail Length – 9636
  • MPFVersion – 0100
  • Number Of Images – 2
  • MPImage Flags – Representative image, Dependent parent image
  • MPImage Format – JPEG
  • MPImage Type – Baseline MP Primary Image
  • MPImage Length – 956417
  • MPImage Start – 0
  • Dependent Image1 Entry Number – 2
  • Dependent Image2 Entry Number – 0
  • MPImage Flags – Dependent child image
  • MPImage Format – JPEG
  • MPImage Type – Large Thumbnail (full HD equivalent)
  • MPImage Length – 350304
  • MPImage Start – 958464
  • Dependent Image1 Entry Number – 0
  • Dependent Image2 Entry Number – 0
  • Camera ID – 72157629868832697
  • Camera Type – Point and Shoot
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About Michael Broad

Michael is retired! He retired at age 57 and at Aug 2018 is approaching 70. He worked in many jobs. The last job he did was as a solicitor practicing general law. He loves animals and is passionate about animal welfare. He also loves photography and nature. He hates animal abuse. He has owned and managed this site since 2007. There are around 13k pages so please use the custom search facility!

Comments

Cat Photos – GPS – Metadata – EXIF – Your Privacy — 9 Comments

  1. Thats true Our freedom is not as free as it used to be. I had to apply for an 18 plus card a few weeks ago just to be verified on a government website. Was a hard process to go though. As these days alot of places require Photo ID and if ur passport has expired even by a few years you still got to go though the process.

      • Yep I agree. I think its happening here too 🙁 No one is safe really even though with the crisis with isis and all the other things. Thats why I try and focused on today, just getting though daily life. It’s too scarey to look to the future so I just stay focused on now.

  2. We’re vulnerable everywhere, not just on the internet. Just slipping our cards into an ATM or gas pump leaves us wide open to identity theft (like anyone would really want to be me!).

    However, in the scheme of things, posting pics is really pretty benign when you think about all of the personal information people will voluntarily post on the internet. It’s astonishing.

    It goes without mention that government has the capability of seeing inside our homes from the sky these days.

    There is no privacy anymore.

  3. That is frightening! I was just reading earlier too about Russians hacking in to webcams in houses, apparently they even saw a cat on a child’s bed!
    Technology can be great but there are always people ready to abuse it.

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