Digital images come with basic metadata, as well as EXIF data that contains information about the device with which it was taken.
EXIF, stands for “Exchangeable Image File Format,” may contain image dimensions, date and time (when it was originally taken and modified), the model of camera and its settings, information about the software used forediting, it’s creator and copyright information, as well as GPS co-ordinates of the location where the photo was taken.
If a criminal, let’s say a kidnapper, has taken a photo or video of their captive from a GPS enabled phone or camera and send it as proof of life to victim’s family for ransom, the police would be able to trace back the kidnapper to the exact location where photo was taken.
Remember, an anonymous hacker who was arrested by the FBI in 2012 after he posted a picture of his girlfriend’s breasts online?
Higinio O. Ochoa III, a.k.a Anonw0rmer, an alleged member of Anonymous-linked CabinCr3w hacking team, who was responsible for hacking into the United States law enforcement agencies and releasing the personal information including phone numbers and home addresses of police officers.
He took picture of his girlfriend’s boobs using his iPhone and posted it on Twitter without realizing the picture contained GPS data pointing directly to his house in Melbourne, Australia.
While the majority of metadata in photos is harmless, but removing EXIF data, especially geo-coordinates, is a smart idea, if you are privacy-conscious.