The Joint Photographic Experts Group, commonly known as JPEG, launched its Privacy & Security initiative in September to protect private information contained in images or their metadata and intellectual property rights.

The proposal includes measures to encrypt metadata contained in images in order to better protect the privacy of the photographer and prevent others from copying an image and republishing it elsewhere without permission. JPEG 2000, the professional version of the JPEG image format, already contains the digital rights management, or DRM, extension JPSEC.

JPEG's proposal does have its critics, one of the most vocal being the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which gave a presentation to the committee during a meeting in Brussels earlier this week. The EFF argues that this would negatively impact the web because it makes fair use a problem, which could hamper online expression and creativity.

Instead of making changes to the JPEG format, the EFF proposes that platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, notify users about how much of the metadata in their images will be revealed upon uploading online, which could make it so metadata about the location in which the photo was taken could be taken out but metadata about authorship and licensing could be left in.

However, cause for concern over an updated JPEG image format could be premature.

"One thing that's important to note is that this is not something we're imposing," JPEG's convener Touradj Ebrahimi recently told BBC News"We are just saying, 'Let people have a choice.' Those who are perfectly happy with today's situation and want to have security-free image sharing [will still be able to]."

Photo: Simon Cocks | Flickr

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