Geotagging (adding GPS coordinates to a photo’s metadata to indicate where it was taken) as an activity is fine. It’s an opt-in process, forcing the photographer to think about whether they want GPS coordinates for this picture to be made available. However, cameras are starting to include built-in GPS receivers, for automatically geotagging all photos. Right now it’s mostly in high-end cameras but its safe to predict that eventually they will virtually all have it.

Like most photo sites do (or will do), Flickr encourages geotagging, adding fun features if the site knows where in the world the photo was taken. Now, imagine a 14-year-old girl adding a self-portrait featuring a provocative pose to their new Flickr account. Now, imagine her biggest fan, knowing where she took it, how to find the house, even what bedroom it was in. For example, take this lady here. She’s not underage, she knew what she was doing, and she looks like she can take care of herself. But imagine a younger girl, unaware that her camera was telling people her address.

Any site that shares photos must make geotagging an opt-in process, by default hiding the data from public view. Otherwise, we’re going to see another steady stream of news stories blaming the sharing site for the behavior of criminals and their victims.