How to Prevent Geotagging on Android and iOS

Removing EXIF is a really good idea. As a survivor of cyber stalking and harassment, I can’t stress this enough. I highly recommend that you prevent geolocation data from ever being stored in your images in the first place by turning it off in Android and iOS.

In Android, open the Camera app and tap the round circle to the right of the shutter button, and from the resulting menu, tap the “Settings” icon.

In the settings menu tap the “Location” button. The geolocation should be disabled. The icon overlaid on the options button should show this. If you’re using the newer Camera app like the one in Android 5.0 Lollipop, just swipe right to expose the options and tap the “Settings” gear (it will be on the bottom-right in portrait mode). From this settings screen, turn off the “save location” option. I recommend that you check to make sure that the location option is off before you start taking and sharing your photos.

On an iOS device, open your settings and tap the “Privacy” controls. In Privacy, tap the “Location Services” button. The location services allows you to completely turn everything off at one time, or you can adjust apps and features individually. I recommend that. Otherwise, you can tap “Camera”  and adjust them individually. In the Camera location settings, tap or make sure “Never” is selected.

The Camera will not record GPS coordinates in your photo’s EXIF metadata. If you don’t remove or disable this information from your photos, you will be sharing more information than you realize. This information can reveal a lot of information about you. If it isn’t, then you have some options for removing all that metadata from your photos. You can definitely prevent your cameraphone from recording your location.

If you have a camera with GPS built in, I recommend that you check your manufacturer’s instruction manual to learn how to turn it off.

If you’ve never been a victim of cyber stalking and harassment, then chances are you probably don’t care about this issue. I never thought I’d have to deal with it either. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about any of this until it was too late. Prevention is always better than dealing with a situation after the fact.

How to View and Remove EXIF Data

When you take a picture with your camera or phone, it records EXIF metadata, which you can later view in the image’s properties. You cannot stop EXIF metadata from being added to your photographs. You can prevent geotagging by turning it off in your camera or camera app. If your photo already has getotagging and you want to remove all of its EXIF data, there is a way to do it after the fact.

To view and remove EXIF data in Windows, first choose the photo or photos you want to remove the EXIF information from, then right-click and select “Properties.”

If you want to add metadata, you can select values and edit the “Details.” If you want to remove the metadata from your photos, then click “Remove Properties and Personal Information” at the bottom of the properties dialog.

The Remove Properties dialog allows you to make a copy of your photos with “all possible properties” removed or you can click “remove the following properties from this file” and then check the boxes next to each item you want to delete.

If you are trying to remove information in OS X, you’ll have to use a third-party software if you want to easily and completely strip the metadata out of your photos. However, you do have the option to remove the location data from photos in Preview. Open your photo, select “Tools” then “Show Inspector” or press Command+I on your keyboard. Then, click the “GPS” tab, and “Remove Location Info” at the bottom.

Most likely, there is a lot of other information that you probably want to remove as well.

Removing EXIF is a really good idea, especially if you’re like me and have privacy concerns. I would strongly recommend removing the geolocation information. It is really simple to stop geolocation data from ever being stored in your images by turning it off in Android and iOS to begin with.

What is EXIF data?

A photo’s EXIF data holds a lot of information about your camera, and most likely where the picture was taken (GPS coordinates). So if you are sharing the images online, there’s a lot of details others can take from them. EXIF stands for Exchangeable Image File Format. Every time you take a picture with your digital camera or phone, a file (typically a JPEG) is written to your device’s storage. In addition to all the bits dedicated to the actual picture, it records a considerable amount of supplemental metadata also. Sometimes it will include time, date, camera settings, and possible copyright information. You can also add further metadata to EXIF through photo processing software.

A camera phone or digital camera with GPS capabilities can record EXIF geolocation metadata. This can be useful if you are wanting to geotag but it may allow users to see any images taken in specific locations, view where the pictures were taken on a map, and to find and follow social events.

EXIF and geotagged data also provides a lot of information about the photographer, who may or may not want to share all of the information.

 

Connected Kids and Phones

Connected Kids and Phones
Many kids carry phones but smartphones also run apps for interactive games that can share locations and a lot more that you probably don’t want to be shared.

  • Know the apps: Be aware of the apps your kids use. Make sure they are only downloaded from reputable app stores and check their privacy disclosures and settings.
  • Be location savvy: Apps that share your location with friends and family can be great, but be sure only the right people can find out where you are.
  • Lock your phone: Make sure that you have a secret PIN (personal identification number), a password, fingerprint setting or other security measures in place so that only you can access your phone.
  • Know how to locate and wipe your phone: There are free tools like Apple’s iCloud Find my Phone and Google’s Android Device Manager that will help you find your device (if it’s turned on) or wipe it clean if it’s lost.

For more cell phone safety tips, see Tips for Smart Cellphone UseA Parents’ Guide to Mobile Phones and the STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Safety Tips for Mobile Devices.