Harry Potter fans all over the world could not wait to get their hands on the latest release Deathly Hollows which was released on 21st.
But a few days before the release, someone leaked a the book by photographing each and every page with a digital camera and making it available on file sharing networks. Though the quality isn’t good but most of the text was legible except for few paragraphs here and there. There are stories on ConnectedInternet and Gadgetell blogs about how the leaker can be caught using the digital fingerprints (EXIF meta-data) added by the camera to the photographs.
Perhaps the leaker didn’t realize that the digital camera he or she used a Canon Rebel 300D left digital fingerprints with every image.
The EFF downloaded the leaked photos of the book and analyzed the images using an open-source ExifTool, one of many programs capable of reading the industry-standard digital photo EXIF meta-data format. They are able to find the camera’s serial number, along with over many other facts including the date and time that the photos were taken and an assortment of photo-geek details about focus and lighting conditions.
Now possibly, the leaker can be traced. There are several ways Canon might know who owns (or used to own) this camera, including a possible warranty registration or service or repair on the camera. A retailer might also have kept relevant records when it originally sold the camera. Another prospect: if images taken with the same camera were uploaded to a photo-sharing site like Flickr, their EXIF meta-data might associate use of that camera with a particular account. (Flickr and other sites usually don’t allow the public to search by EXIF tag values. But it’s possible that Flickr itself, or a third-party spider that had downloaded all of its images, could perform such a search.)
Some recent camera setups can even use GPS to include ‘geocode’ information about the physical geographic location where a photo was taken — a boon to hobbyists, tourists, and others, but an obvious privacy risk if future photographers somehow remain unaware that this information is being embedded into their images.
But users who were unhappy about EXIF data in their photographs could remove it if they chose.
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