Photographs taken on modern cameras and smartphones often contain supplementary information such as the location where the photo was taken, camera or smartphone model, aperture settings and more. This is called EXIF and stands for Exchangeable Image File format.
In compliance with GDPR, and also as good data protection practice, it is often necessary to strip this EXIF data from images we use and share on websites or social media. Even passing a client’s image to a print company means that you are sharing location data and maybe other details that wouldn’t be desirable.
An example of the bad sides of EXIF
Imagine that you run a security company and that you have taken an image of a hidden override switch fitted to an alarm system. This was fitted on a property with half a million pounds of jewellery stored in a bedroom. You share that image online, with no written details of where it was taken, and comment “We saw this today, some people never learn LOL. £500k in jewellery at this pad too, lol”. You think that surely nobody would be able to guess where the property is just from the photo of a switch. Well, think again. The photo gets downloaded, analysed (with free tools) and the location extracted. Mr Burglar McBurglarface is on his way in 5 minutes…
OK, so this is not always going to happen, but it’s an example of how you need to protect data that gets stored in the background without you knowing.
How do I strip the EXIF data from my photos?
You can use a free tool and it’s one that I recommend for my clients. IrfanView image viewer and editor installs on PCs (not Macs) and it’s a fast, lightweight image viewer. It has great resizing functionality, so easily cropping images and keeping file sizes down is it’s main use. By default, it will save EXIF data, so you need to change this behaviour. Here’s how:
Load any image file into Irfanview and then ‘Save As’. Once there you’ll see a grey window to the right of your Save dialog box, something like this: