Some time ago, the website Vice.com posted an article with the somewhat full of themselves title “We Are With John McAfee Right Now, Suckers”. In it, they reveal how they have been traveling with John for the better part of the week.
The one thing that didn’t occur to them was the photo included in the article was taken with an iPhone which, as most of us know, embeds geolocation data in every shot. As soon as they realized that fact (or more likely, someone told them), the photo was replaced. The new one has the geo data removed.
I was able to get my hands on the original and analyzed the stored EXIF metadata to get the exact GPS coordinates at which the image was shot. Lo and behold, it sounds like Mr. McAffee is hanging out in Rio Dulce in Guatemala.
People getting tracked down by using EXIF data stored in pictures happens more often than many realize. There are, for example, services which scan photos found online to retrieve camera serial numbers and using stored GPS data, follow that specific camera around. If your photo equipment ever disappears from the back of your car, this may not be a horrible way of tracking it down. Sound familiar? It works for finding people too. You have to work hard to stay private in the UK these days.
Update 1: All signs point to John McAfee really being in Guatemala. He has no also hired a local attorney. Sounds like the people at Vice.com have learned from their mistakes and erased all EXIF data.
Update 2: Several days later, McAfee is claiming the EXIF data was fake and intentionally manipulated. That is hard to believe. Why would he reveal that information? Vice.com removing the info from the image soon after it was found is also too big of a coincidence to ignore. If you wanted to mislead people, you certainly wouldn’t do either: say information has been doctored or remove it. Things just don’t add up.