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Special Report: The dangers of geotagging pictures on your phone and how to stop it

Published On: Nov 21 2013 06:30:26 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 16 2014 07:08:13 PM CST
EL PASO, Texas -

Yet another reason to be careful how you use your camera phone.

A feature built into the phone attaches an exact geographic location to the pictures you take.

While the intentions were pure there are ways to abuse the technology.

“It is so easy to share digital technology,” said Jay J. Armes III, private investigator and security expert. “You can post something on Facebook and the entire world now has access to that photo in a matter of seconds."

Social media sites are a wonderful way to keep in touch with family and friends living out of town or share a moment with loved ones.

But Armes says it is very easy for that information to be misused.

“Geotagging was created to act as an aid for people who want to remember where their photographs are taken,” Armes said.

Geotags are labels embedded in digital photos.

They use your phone's GPS technology to imprint the exact latitude and longitude of the location where a photo was taken.

"You can go back, use geotagging information and see exactly on a map where you were,” Armes said.

Armes gave a demonstration of how geotagging works by using the phone of an ABC-7 anchor to take her picture at the station offices. The anchor emailed the photo to him and he pulled up the photo at his office later that day.

With some specific programs, Armes was able to uncover the latitude and longitude information of where the photo was taken.

He declined to say which programs he used to keep that information out of the wrong hands.

But he simply used Google Maps to pinpoint precisely where the anchor was standing when he snapped that photo.

Armes says he has seen an increase in cases involving geotagging and that he has used geotagging to track down people who've skipped out on child support payments.

“Stalkers are doing this now,” Armes said. “They find profiles online. They find out where these people live ... and they're using these geotags to find out the home addresses of people who've posted the pics."

Some see geotagging as invasive and an invasion of privacy while another said he wouldn’t post a picture online if he didn’t want people to know what he was doing.

To disable geotagging on your camera phone:
iPhone (4.0):
1. Go to Settings.
2. Select General.
3. Select Location Services.
4. Locate Camera from the list of apps that use Location Services and change the setting to OFF.

Android (2.2; 2.3):
1. Open the Camera app.
2. Select the Location icon.
3. Select Off.
Some versions of Android will need you to open the Camera app, select the Menu button on their phone, select Settings and disable Geo-tag photos.

BlackBerry (6.0):
1. Open Camera.
2. Select the Location icon and set it to Disabled.
Previous versions will need to open Camera, press the Menu button and select Options. Then set Geotagging to Disabled.

To disable location services on your phone for all apps:
iPhone (4.0):
1. Go to Settings.
2. Select General.
3. Select Location Services.
4. Change the setting for Location Services to OFF.

Android (2.2; 2.3):
1. Open Settings.
2. Select Location & security.
3. Uncheck both Use wireless networks and Use GPS satellites.

BlackBerry (6.0):
1. Open Options.
2. Select Device.
3. Select Location Settings.
4. Go to Location Services and change the setting to Location Off.
5. Press the Menu key on the phone.
6. Select Save.
Previous versions will need to open Options, select Security, and select Applications Permissions. Press the Menu key on your phone and select Edit. Expand Connections and set Location (GPS) to Deny.

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