The researchers say the reason for the location leak is a data called “EXIF”, which is attached to images taken with digital cameras or smartphones. If the latter devices had built-in GPS, EXIF information could include the detailed geolocation where the pictures had been made. This could be a real nightmare for the careless or less tech savvy dark web vendors.
“These are very exact data points — if you drilled down, they could help you pinpoint a house,” Rose said.
The Harvard seniors researched all drug listings on dark net markets that had the geolocation turned on and created an interactive map. They altered the exact locations by roughly a mile for privacy reasons. This geotagged map shows Rose’s and Lisker’s findings, the different colors show different dark web markets:
The duo started their research last fall as part of a project for privacy and technology. Lisker and Rose based their findings on the Black-Market Archives