Conserving Nature By Scrubbing Your GPS Data

Written by: Neil Copes  

Published on Thursday, July 12th, 2018 at 1:48 pm EDT

Written by: Neil Copes


A Siberian tiger and her cub ... somewhere.
Photo credit: Dave Pape

The Internet provides quite a bit of knowledge and power to anyone with access to it, but unfortunately that includes poachers and people involved in illegal plant and animals trades. For years, archaeologists have been obscuring and protecting the locations of important sites out of a fear of attracting looters. The current trend in conservation biology is moving in the same direction, with calls to remove GPS data embedded in photographs of endangered species before posting the images online, or avoiding uploading images of at-risk species with identifying landmarks present in the photograph. Some researchers have even suggested limiting scientific publishing on endangered species in order to avoid putting them at risk of poachers. As a public service announcement for anyone concerned: Windows lets you edit the data embedding in a photograph by right-clicking, and going to Properties -> Details.