Who knew geotagged photos can be so deadly? Privacy has always been an issue, especially since some websites and online applications pull your location data without even asking you for permission. There are a number of social apps that let you check in to locations so that your network can see where you are, where you had dinner last week, or where that photo you just posted was taken. (There’s also some concepts like the Photoblocker beer cooler that protect your identity, but all for different reasons.)
Anyway, geotagging isn’t a big deal to most people, but if you’re a member of the U.S. Army, then you’d better take down those photos and disable the geotag option. (And if you’re a private citizen who’s concerned about his or her privacy and public safety, then it would do you a lot of good to do the same.)
The U.S. Army published an article recently about the dangers of geotagged photos, as they pose serious security risks and have actually resulted in the attack of an army base camp in Iraq back in 2007:
When a new fleet of helicopters arrived with an aviation unit at a base in Iraq, some Soldiers took pictures on the flightline, he said. From the photos that were uploaded to the Internet, the enemy was able to determine the exact location of the helicopters inside the compound and conduct a mortar attack, destroying four of the AH-64 Apaches.
Staff Sgt. Dale Sweetnam, of the Online and Social Media Division, stated that geotagging was a particular concern for soldiers who are on their way to a mission or who have already been deployed. “Ideally, Soldiers should always be aware of the dangers associated with geotagging regardless of where they are.”
Sweetnam also posed this question to families of soldiers: “Do you really want everyone to know the exact location of your home or your children’s school? Before adding a location to a photo, Soldiers really need to step back and ask themselves, ‘Who really needs to know this location information?'”
Geotagging has made it easy for stalkers to find their subjects and for the bad guys to find their targets. If you value your privacy and your safety, then you might want to turn off location services on your devices–for good.