Cat Photos, The Privacy Debate, & The Project That Brought Them Together

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cat1Photo: PHOTO: REX USA/REX.
Owen Mundy just ruined the Internet. What were once innocuous photos of grumpy cats, tired cats, and fat cats, have now become adorable symbols of just how little privacy we have online.

Mundy, a professor at Florida State University, has created a visual database of geotagged cat photos culled from sites like Flickr, Twitpic, and Instagram that display where on a map the photo was taken. It's at once a high-tech home for all the cuddly cat photos that populate cyberspace, as well as a stark reminder of just how easy it is for anyone to access vital information like where you live.

"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," Mundy writes on the site."

While there's no real danger of having a picture of your cat with its location on Mundy's site, he has agreed to take down any images at the behest of any owners. Mundy has yet to receive any backlash over his controversial project, which goes to show that most people don't really mind location sharing, a feature that some of the most popular social media apps are based on.

Still, Mundy raises some interesting questions about our diminishing privacy online, and he did it with cats.

Paranoia never looked so cute. (The New York Times)