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Website knows where your cat lives, highlights privacy concerns

Monday - 8/18/2014, 2:18pm  ET

catlives.jpg
This screen shot shows some of the geo-tagged images of cats in D.C. (IKnowWhereYourCatLives.com)

WASHINGTON -- Pet lovers have a habit of sharing pictures of their furry friends online.

But those pictures may give people with bad intentions information about where the animal lovers live and what's inside their home.

And that's what sparked Owen Mundy, an Art Professor at Florida State University, to come up with IKnowWhereYourCatLives.com . He realized photos he shared were tagged with the exact location of his home. Pictures his daughter took in the backyard showed up on the map.

He chose to go with the cat theme because it was still creepy, but wanted to avoid calling the project "I Know Where Your Daughter Sleeps."

With the help of super computers at FSU he designed a site that has posted more than 5 million pictures from social media sites like Flickr and Instagram with geo- location tags on a map.

And while his site focuses on cats, he cautions that images with anything from shoes to a family dinner are accessible in the same way.

While cat lovers may enjoy browsing all the photos of cuddly kittens and cats, unwanted viewers can also see what's posted. In browsing the site, it doesn't take long to find pictures that may show a crook where cute cats live -- and all the valuables in their owners' living rooms.

"It's hard to make an artwork that involves politics that addresses something like data privacy without violating other people's data privacy," says Mundy.

The website does have a way for users to remove location tags from their picture on the page. But Mundy hopes the site inspires someone to consider their actions before putting personal images online.

"In the United States we have no comprehensive data privacy law that protects people here so corporations are kind of doing whatever they want," says Mundy. He hopes his project sparks more conversation on privacy issues.

Does Mundy know where your cat lives? Find out by clicking here.

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