EXIF catches Harry Potter snoop.. But what about YOU ?

Jul 19

oh ow A cool little story on Digg today. Somewhere somehow an adult managed to take a huge risk to photograph a children's book before it was released… And borked up big time. Of course you all know what i'm talking about. Somewhere somebody took the risk of shooting pictures of the new Harry Potter book (number 7) and post them on the internet. Whow πŸ™‚ Cool πŸ™‚ I know those black cape wearing, wand waving, nerd-glass sporting fans among you are drooling with anticipation over that. But to me I cannot seriously fathom what the fuss is about. While walking through a major bookstore in Antwerp yesterday afternoon I was confronted with the public announcement that their shoppers could drag their ass out in the middle of a friday night (forgo clubbing, knicker-hunting and excessive drinking) to stand in line at 12 o'clock like some hobo to pick up THEIR copy of the new book. What – The – Frack ???  I've only seen the first Harry Potter movie and my thoughts that mr Potter IS for kids was only wildly confirmed by the scene where they fly around on broomsticks trying to play a game of magic-baseball or something. ( That was right before i was overcome by a secret 'put me to sleep out of sheer boredom' spell that was pronounced in the movie ) .. But back to the topic !  πŸ™‚ This little fanboy TOOK a picture of the new Harry Potter book, Put it on line .. But forgot to remove the EXIF data ! This is a certain amount of information that gets put into your digital picture by the camera. Like exposure time, when the picture was taken, brand of the camera, and .. Serial number of the camera. Oh-Ohw !  Our little GhormenGhastic 007 seems to have posted along the serial of his own camera to the world wide web. Very very stupid. Like a big trail of breadcrums (with flashing knobs and sings attached) he can lead ms J.K. 'Rolling in money' to his own whereabouts and.. well… be turned into a frog I guess.  (Click on the picture for the full resolution version )

hottie The whole scenario made me wonder .. Just how much information do we put out there. Lets take a look at some Flickr photos shall we ?   This is for example one of the more popular pictures on the Knightwise flickr Site. Yeah, its a classic. Show some skin, flash a smile and put the tags 'picture' 'girlfriend' 'hot' and be sure to attract a crowd (its sad but true. According to Flickr this is the extra information that you can request.


When we click on "more properties " we get to see a lot of information about the picture. In what "mode" the picture was taken (sports mode) On what computer the picture was processed (Mac computer) The kind of compression and so on. But so far : No serial of my camera (Good thing).

Now when I go to the original picture on my harddrive and right click for the properties i get this :

Image Type: jpeg (The JPEG image format)
Width: 1200 pixels
Height: 1600 pixels
Camera Brand: NIKON
Camera Model: E4200
Date Taken: 2005:10:16 13:38:28
Exposure Time: 1/362 sec.
Exposure Program: Normal program
Metering Mode: Pattern
Flash Fired: Flash did not fire, compulsatory flash mode.
Focal Length: 23.4 mm
ISO Speed Rating: 79
Software: QuickTime 7.0.2

But with a little searching the perp who shot the Harry Potter pictures can be easily traced this way. Think about it. All you need to do is have your layer call up Canon ( The pictures where taken with a Canon Eos Digital Rebel ) and ask them who bought the camera with serial 560151117. If the guy sent in his warranty slip you will even have is phone number. 

The moral of the story here is : Beware what you put out there on the internet. Your camera records not only what you see but also when you shot it, on what computer you shot it, the serial of the camera and so forth. To people who want to be a snoop they can pretty much puzzle together a fairly large amount of information just by looking around the net. And if the pieces of the puzzle add up .. they have quite 'a picture' of who you are. But what if you bought a second hand digital camera of somebody who used it to take child pornography pictures ? What if those pictures leak on the net and people trace the serial. What if you work in a daycare center (with children) and what if the pieces of information that are out there are put together to make "the WRONG picture of you". Whenever we talk about logging people always say 'I have nothing to hide" And if they "have the right picture' of you that is very true. But what if that information gets put together in the WRONG way .. and they get " a false image' of reality .. with you stuck in the middle. 

The article on Digg. 

EXIF on Wikipedia.

Hot girlfriend search on Flickr.  


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