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What is image metadata?

What is image metadata?

Image metadata can provide information about place and time and thus endanger anonymity beyond the image content.

Images contain metadata in various formats:

  • EXIF (Exchangeable Image Films Format)
  • XMP (Extensible Metadata Platform).
  • IPTC (International Press Telecommunication Council).

Metadata can contain the following information:

  • Times (e.g. date and time of creation, editing, access ...)
  • Geographic data (e.g. GPS location, line of sight, ...)
  • Information about the camera (e.g. manufacturer, model)
  • Camera settings (e.g. aperture, exposure time, flash, ...)
  • Image data (e.g. height, width, resolution, compression, ...)

Potential use and misuse: The desired use of this information is offset by the undesired use. These include the following scenarios:

  • Times:
    • Series of images can be displayed in the course of time, even if the images as copies have a different creation reason.
    • If a location can be identified from the picture (e.g. with a name tag, logo, etc.), time stamps can be compared with, for example, duty rosters or other external lists. The anonymity of people may be at risk.
  • Georgographic information:
    • Images can be displayed on a map based on location and (possibly also) time and thus better interpreted in the individual statement - but also in the overall statement (e.g. to develop best practice)
    • If the geographical position can be compared with ownership (e.g. apartment, company facility), the anonymity of people can be jeopardized.
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