Security of Internet dating sites examined


BOULDER, Colo., Jan. 13 (UPI) — Some dating Web sites are compromising the privacy and security of members by not removing GPS location information from submitted photos, U.S. researchers say.

A class research project at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business examined 90 dating sites and found 21 that did not properly remove location data from pictures uploaded by their users.

As more people are taking photographs with cameras and cellphones containing Global Positioning System chips, some dating Web site profile pictures contain GPS coordinates that indicate where a picture was taken, CU-Boulder Professor Kai Larsen said in a university release Friday.

When such information is not removed by the dating Web site, he said, commonly available tools can be used to detect the location of a person’s residence or other locations frequented by the user.

Most dating sites eliminate such data from their members’ photos because misuse of the information could compromise the safety of their users, Larsen said, but some do not.

The university contacted the Web sites that were not removing the location data, he said.

“It was clear that some companies did not know about this issue,” Larsen said. “The feedback ranged from appreciative to reluctantly removing the metadata to no response.

“Technology is so important today and many companies deal with very private data,” Larsen said. “Company decisions about how to deal with data privacy can affect their valuation.”

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