'I know where your cat lives' site reveals privacy issues

Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live
Professor Creates Site Revealing Where People's Cats Live

A Florida State University professor has created a project that tracks your cat pictures and then figures out where that cat lives. Wait ... seriously?

It's called "I Know Where Your Cat Lives," and you can keep hitting the "Random Cat" button to find more real cats all over the world and their exact geographical locations.

OK -- so it sounds totally creepy, but the thing is -- it's supposed to be. Professor Owen Mundy is trying to show us how unsafe it can be to post pictures online.

Cameras often encode the latitude and longitude of where a picture was taken. Think about all the times you've taken a selfie, or took a shot of that awesome dinner you were about to divulge in. These pictures could very well also have a geolocation encoded in it.

The project's site says, "This project explores two uses of the internet: the sociable and humorous appreciation of domesticated felines, and the status quo of personal data usage by startups and international megacorps who are riding the wave of decreased privacy for all."

The professor simply searched the world wide web for images tagged "cat." HLN's Jen Westhoven drives home that anyone, not just this research, can find you from your pics: "So many cameras just do that automatically and that basically means anyone, a company ... 'Big Brother' can basically know where you are."

Mundy told Motherboard the idea came to him when he started posting pictures of his daughter on Instagram, and thought about how dangerous it might be. He wanted to open people's eyes in a "fun" way. And, he says he'll take down any cat pictures from his map if their owners contact him.

And so far, some positive reaction -- CBC's headline says the project proves a point about privacy.

If you're jonesing to get your own cat on the map, you can head over to the Kickstarter page, created by the professor, Owen Mundy, and any donation allows you the option to add Mr. Kitty or Ms. Flufferpants to the project. Right now, there are more than 1 million cats on the map. That's a whole lot of cats.

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