Whenever an endangered species or similar is uploaded to iNaturalist a vague region is given for the location of the observation. This is to my understanding to prevent poachers from going to the area in search of the organism. My problem with this feature is I think the general region to hide the species is too small. Chances are poachers are willing to search the surrounding area for the organism. I know it wouldn’t change much, but I think bigger regions should be given to hide these threatened species.
geoprivacy is getting reviewed in general, for extremely threatened species i think there are a few that default to ‘private’. I personally think that should only apply to a very small number of organisms (rhinos?) or ones with super specific habitat. For the most part, i think the already very large obscuring rectangle is totally sufficient. It would take years to search that space for anything smaller than a rhino or elephant.
note that i approved this because it’s a somewhat different request but there are already a lot of discussions going on about auto obscure so merging this into one of those may be better.
I think it would help if you gave an assessment of how big you think it should be. Right now it is randomized within roughly 22 kilometers in either direction (0.2 degrees) of the exact location (the exact size of the box depends on how far from the equator it is).
I hope the geoprivacy review is going to result in changes to allow users to set “privacy zones” where all observations default to “obscured”. For example, I currently have to manually set all observations at my house to “obscured” so I avoid a tight cluster of observations there serving as a neon sign saying “I LIVE HERE!”
I participate on a number of other websites (photography, fitness) that allow users to set privacy zones like this for their data and I make robust use of it.
Can you give some examples of taxa for which you think the geoprivacy cell/obscured area is too small?
I’m not a conservation biologist, but in my experience many sensitive species already have a restricted range which is already well known, especially to many poachers, so the area of the obscuration rectangle is usually not much different than what is publicly available.
Oh okay, I guess there are just certain species I would prefer be automatically obscured then, like strongly endangered species for example.
i think for this conversation to go further itw ould have to deal with those species specifically. There are a couple of cases where the obscuring defaults to ‘private’ location but that’s a pretty extreme step so shouldn’t be used lightly either.
I also didn’t mean to totally shut down conversation here - just sharing my experience with sensitive species. But I agree with @charlie that if there are certain species you are concerned about, those need to be dealt with specifically. You can flag the taxon or email us at email@example.com you like as well.
Good to know! I suppose we can go ahead and close this request then since that works well enough for me and anyone else who would be working with extremely endangered taxa.