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Dangers Of Taking Pictures On Smartphones

Updated: Thursday, August 15 2013, 05:21 PM CDT

The seemingly innocent pictures you take on your smartphone could be posing a threat to your safety. The problem comes when the snapshots are loaded online. Embedded information in the pictures could be revealing where you live, where your kids go to day care and the park where they like to play.           

Kids love to mug for the camera and parents love to capture them doing it. But, pictures Julie Matheny emails or uploads from her smartphone could be revealing the exact locations where she's taking the photos. 

"You know it's a little scary. There are creepy people out there. You never know who's watching your kid," said Matheny. 

And it's possible to watch from a safe distance just by tracking the locations where the photos are taken. 

"Most people are unaware," said Will Ambruzs, Director of Forensics at Flashback Data in South Austin. 

Ambruzs showed us the location information that's automatically mapped on smartphone photos. The GPS data includes longitude, latitude, even the elevation. Just map the coordinates with easily available software and then it's easy to zoom in on where the pictures are taken and when. 

"They're also time stamped when I'm at those locations and when I'm not," said Ambruzs. 

The tracking can get scarily specific. 

"In a house that could be a bedroom and on a street that could be a particular address on that street," said Ambruzs. 

To protect your privacy all you need to do is deactivate your camera's geotagging. 

If you have an iPhone here’s what you need to do.

Select "settings".

Scroll down to "privacy".

Look for "location services".

Then go to "camera".

If the "camera" setting is turned on simply take the slider and turn it to off. 

"It just makes you feel safer," said Matheny. 

iPhones come out of the box with geotagging "on". This Austin mom didn't hesitate to fix, what she considers to be a problem, and turned off the geotracker on her iPhone. 

"At least I know they can't find my house, they can't find my kids' bedroom," said Matheny. 

It's peace of mind as smartphones keep offering more opportunities to map your every movement. This fall Apple will launch its newest operating system. iOS 7 is expected to have even more ways for you to share your location day and night. 

Dangers Of Taking Pictures On Smartphones

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