Cats are the subject of an eye-opening website and project designed to raise awareness of internet safety when posting photos. The ‘I Know Where Your Cat Lives’ website was designed by Owen Mundy, an art professor at Florida State University, UK. Mundy’s website explores how people’s everyday internet activity generates a wealth of online data about their lives and locations.
Mundy began the project years ago when he discovered that photos of his three-year-old daughter had also uploaded their location to the internet. Because Mundy had been able to easily and unknowingly upload this private information, he set out to raise awareness of this occurrence in the general public’s lives.
“The web economy has grown based completely on surveillance,”explained Mundy. “A picture can only say so much. But if someone wants to do you harm or stalk you, or you live in a place where free speech is limited, anyone can track where you are.”
Rather than focus on the data contained in vacation photos or selfies, Mundy focused his project on a different subject: photos of people’s pets. Mundy researched Instagram and found that 70 million photographs were tagged with the word “cat.” If a user had weak privacy settings, anyone could potentially gain access to information on the location where each photo was taken.
The ‘I Know Where Your Cat Lives’ website now uses 5.3 million publicly uploaded cat pictures. Using data which is publicly available from these photos, the site maps the geographic location of the pictures within 8 meters.
While cat photos are generally seen as lighthearted and fun, the ‘I Know Where Your Cat Lives’ website provides eye-opening information about what you may be revealing by uploading your photos publicly.