Most of us use some sort of smartphone in our daily lives. But, whether it is an iPhone, Samsung, or any Android device, the privacy questions remain the same. Is my information private? Am I being tracked? How safe is my information from prying eyes? The answer is well . . . . it depends. Yes, you better get used to that answer in law because it really does depend. It depends on who you ask, it depends on what exactly is being tracked and it depends on how you define private information.
To put it in perspective, let’s take a look at this photograph I took with my iPhone of the Hodges University’s campus just a few days ago. To the naked eye, it is simply just a photograph of the school; a nice picture of the campus magnifying the name and vibrant colors of Hodges University. But, if we dig a little deeper, we can see that the old saying is true . . . “a picture is worth a thousand words,” or perhaps the right way to say it should be . . . “a picture is worth a thousand bits of data.” The reason for saying that is because each picture taken by any digital camera, iPhone, tablet or smart device contains hidden metadata, EXIF, GPS coordinates and/or GeoData.
Here’s what most people see when looking at a photograph:
Here’s what information is actually there:
Cases can be won and lost because of this hidden information. In some cases it has helped accused defendant’s prove that they were not in a particular place on a particular time. Further, it has helped convict people of wrong doing by helping to prove that even though they claimed they were not at the scene of the crime or during a wrongful action, they were in fact present – all corroborated by the metadata and information contained digitally in their smartphone, photographs, texts, etc. (See an interesting article on the subject here!)
So the next time you pick up your smart phone to take a photo, remember . . . once you send it, you may very well be sending much more information than what meets the eye. . . .
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