Turn Geo-tagging Off!

Updated: Mar 20, 2019

If you are concerned about safety, then exercising certain rights to privacy are important. Like many, you may be willing to be an open book on social media with your friends, family, and maybe even the public. You can still do this and preserve privacy so that you do not compromise your safety and the safety of family members, especially your own children.

I recently had opportunity to learn from Las Vegas family law attorney Nadin Cutter a few very easy steps you can do on your phone right now to protect your children. She explained that beyond just your ex learning all of your whereabouts while building a case in family court, these safety and privacy steps can keep your child safe from predators.

Specifically, when you take photos with your phone and have the geotagging setting turned on, the photo will have the location of the photo embedded in it and this location information can be easily extracted with an application or program. Every smart phone may have slightly different steps to turn geotagging off, and it is recommended you look for the steps for your phone or device. You do not have to turn geotagging off for every app you use because it can be useful for certain things, but it is not necessary for photos. For instance, you may want to have it on for your maps app to help you with driving instructions or with your Yelp app if you review businesses.

Here is a short list of reasons Nadin Cutter provided for why everyone should do this simple task:

1. Geotagging photos really doesn’t serve a useful purpose in normal day-to-day photo taking. Of course there are times when you may want it on and you can turn it on, but it should normally be off. One example for having it on may be if you are accused of stalking or harassing and may be under a temporary protection order. In this situation, you may want as much evidence of your actual location at all times to create an alibi in case you are later accused of being somewhere you weren’t.

2. It should certainly be off on any devices your children have, including phones and tablets, even those your toddlers use because they can snap pictures inside their homes and even bedrooms, which give bad people a road map to them. If you thing geotagging your children is good for you to keep an eye on them when they are out and about, consider using other apps or devices for spying on your kids because geotagging remains in pictures that your child may post on social media, again, giving bad actors easy access to innocent potential victims—your own children. You can purchase clothing or backpacks with geotagging capability in microchips to keep an eye on your child’s location throughout the day.

3. When you are going through a divorce, you shouldn’t have to shut down all of your social life including your social media just because your ex is keeping an eye on you, perhaps to make a case for a superior posture in a child custody proceeding. But, you also don’t have to give your ex your location in pictures you post. Remember, when you post on Instagram or Facebook, you can always choose your location without having geotagging embedded in photos.

4. As always, if you are going through a difficult family law case, you shouldn’t share a cell phone plan with the opposing party. Doing so allows that party to know when you contact your attorney, your witnesses, and other meetings you may want private for your safety and to keep your family law case strong. Hackers know that gaining access to a person‘s phone can give you deep insight into that person’s activities and motivations. You don’t want the opposing party in litigation to have this insight. Buy a prepaid phone for most of your interactions while dealing with a divorce or child custody case in family court.


Anthony M. Wright, Esq. has been a domestic relations attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada since 2005. His practice primarily has focused on all incidents of Las Vegas Divorce and Las Vegas child custody including all the municipalities around Las Vegas.

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