Geotagging presents privacy concerns for adoptive parents - FOX 13 News

Geotagging presents privacy concerns for adoptive parents

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Shiloh and Selah's parents adopted them at birth.

"They've just been a joy to our family," says their mother, Samantha Phillip.

The parents shared their joy online, posting photos, until Phillip realized what those photos revealed: their location was digitally embedded into her cell phone photos.

"It just kind of made me a little sick. It scared me," Phillip said.

The details are in the photo's metadata.

"It's GPS coordinates. It's attitude and longitude that go right down to the exact block where you are and even your altitude above sea level," explained manager Chris Boex. "So when you post those photos online, depending on which service you use, somebody could easily just grab that information, see where that photo was taken, and they may know where you were an hour ago, ten minutes ago, or even a year ago."

Geotagging happens automatically, and it's a big concern for adoptive families and birth parents, whose confidentiality is legally protected.

"I've had several clients that have called, just frightened about this prospect, and sick to their stomach worried -- weighing the risk of an unwarranted knock on the door, or unwanted contact. Even something as scary as being followed," said Tampa adoption attorney Jeanne Tate with Heart of Adoptions.

Tate says it's led some birth parents to find their adopted children.

"Adoptive parents who might text or email or even post on a website a photograph of their child [are] unwillingly giving and unknowingly giving birth parents' information: where they live, if that photograph was taken in their backyard, or in their kitchen," Tate said.

The only way to stop it is to changing your privacy settings, like the twins' parents have now done.

"And if somebody can just click on a picture and figure out exactly how to get to my backyard, that's scary," Philip said.

Although you can turn off the geotagging by going into your privacy settings, not everyone turns it off -- so there's no guarantee that you or your kids won't be geo-tagged in someone else's photos.




Facebook article: How privacy works for tagged photos:

Turn off geotagging in your iPhone:

  • Go to "Settings" on the home screen
  • Go to the "Privacy"" menu.
  • Choose "Location Services" from the top of the screen.
  • Look for the "Camera" setting. Change it from the "ON" position to the "OFF" position.

   Turn off geotagging in your Android:

  • Start camera app
  • Hit the Settings button
  • Find the "GPS Tag" option, and turn it off


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