How safe are "Obscured" Observations

I plan to go to an expedition to find an specific plant which was recently discovered that i know exists in a specific patch of grassland, This plant is endemic to my state, (Karnataka, India), and funnily seems to be endemic to the outskirts of my urban city.
I always make my observation’s location 100% accurate as much as possible, down to the exact patch of grass and same rock. While this specific species of plant isnt known to be endangered yet, i dont want to reveal the location as i dont want excessive attention for this newly described data deficent plant which is threatened by urban development, I do want to keep the observation location exact so it can be used for researchers but at the same time im worried it can be tracked down even though its obscured, as i cant find any info on how the obscured location feature works. (I believe its adds a bounding box and a circle, i dont know much more about that)

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This is the iNat help documentation on geoprivacy:

I think it probably answers most of your questions. Obscuration on iNat is fairly, but not perfectly, secure, as there may be clues in an observation or user’s activity that could help other people to determine a location (though discussing how to defeat obscuration is not a good topic for the forum).

If you want to be 100% sure that a location is not accessible, it’s best to not post on iNat.

There are also many other threads on geoprivacy on the forum that have good information that you can search for.


Thank you, i think i will upload it! I just checked and i think an obscured location does hide preety well!

though discussing how to defeat obscuration is not a good topic for the forum

Haha, i wasnt trying to do that, i like to find organisms without people’s help, all by myself.


yup. obscured locations are “secure” only until they aren’t.


I once saw an obscured observation which had been photographed on a beach. The box it had been “obscured” in was practically all sea, with one corner just touching the beach, pinpointing its position exactly. So after uploading obscured observations it’s a good idea to check and make sure that nothing like this has happened.


You can’t use obscured locations to share locations with researchers. You are better off contacting those researchers specifically, or responding to their request for info if they do contact you.


I don’t think this is really correct.

Users can choose to trust other users or a project, see:

For taxon geoprivacy (which is not what OP talked about), admins of iNat network sites can see true locations if the observer is a member, and some other arrangements exist (ie, I think state agencies can have access to unobscured taxon geoprivacy, but not user-selected geoprivacy, in their states, though I’m not 100% sure how this works)

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In that instance, you are still giving the location to someone and so “overcoming” the obscuring attribute on the observation.

The only difference with a project, and similarly with the “share hidden coordinates” setting (Account Settings->Relationships), is that you can do this automatically, but that’s only more efficient if you have several observations to share the location with someone.