I am entirely serious.

As I walked conspicuously down a narrow alley this morning with my camera hanging off my shoulder I began considering how I would/could respond to a bit of rough treatment by local security forces.

Assuming I had some photos I did not want destroyed, the best possibility seemed to be ejecting and surreptitiously swallowing my SDCard.

Then I began wondering if it would be readable upon exit?

There are people on this site who will immediately find this question and premise absurd, consider yourselves lucky. There are others who have been to the less free corners of the world who understand how commonplace such events can be...

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not at all clear how "safe" it would be to swallow a SD card. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2013 at 2:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, an old CF card of mine went through the wash and worked fine for about a year after. \$\endgroup\$
    – MikeW
    Jan 26, 2013 at 4:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you want to save the photos but do not mind them being seen, it would be probably good to setup an automatic upload instead using something like an EyeFi card that sends the photos you your phone and uploads them automatically. I have not tried this myself but I imagine all the pieces to make it work already exist, assuming there is a cellular network where you are (or you have access to a nearby WiFi network). \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jan 26, 2013 at 4:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you are serious about not wanting the bad guys to access, you can't use WiFi, its insecure. Its not good enough when you are talking life and death, which can happen if the fascist government doesn't like your photos. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2013 at 5:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ See also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/33902/… Althoug if you are so concerned then they are probably going to beat the password out of you. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2013 at 7:37

7 Answers 7


Apparently yes:

Police announced that part of the SD Card has since been discovered in Wakita's body (some Japanese blogs are reporting that they found it in his, ahem, poop). On the recovered card, officers apparently discovered the peeping pictures in question and arrested Wakita.

They are pretty durable things. It sounds like in this case the guy actually chewed it, and yet it still survived enough for forensics. But, if you're not planning on chewing, I might be a little concerned about it lodging in my throat. If you're anticipating this need, I'd say get an adapter and go for a microSD card.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Having a second card full of innocuous photos also seems like a good plan. A camera with no card is pretty suspicious. They'll expect to find a card, so let them find one. \$\endgroup\$
    – Caleb
    Jan 26, 2013 at 5:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Caleb I recently heard a story on NPR (sorry, I can't remember the name and can't find the source) about a photographer who used this tactic after being caught taking pictures while paragliding over a nude beach. Authorities arrested him on landing, but he had swapped out his card. He nicely handed over the camera, and they released him when they found no photos of nude patrons. \$\endgroup\$
    – xdumaine
    Jan 26, 2013 at 15:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndrewHeath - It is recoverable and even in Canada police can keep in custody until it comes out: vancouversun.com/news/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Jan 26, 2013 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ For a relevant pop culture reference see Fela Kuti's Expensive Shit. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Expensive_Shit \$\endgroup\$
    – Nate Cook
    Jan 26, 2013 at 18:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that even if the chip still contains the information, the outside contacts will be hopelessly corroded (i.e., you will need forensic recover equipment, not a card reader) unless the card is protected from digestive fluids. \$\endgroup\$
    – Reid
    Feb 1, 2013 at 18:17

Most high-end SD cards from a good brand are waterproof. It will survive submerging in a fish tank for weeks, acid proof or not, I don't know. Generic brands or low-end cards are not as well constructed and are NOT waterproof.

However, taking the question seriously, since the card ultimately comes out with your waste. I think it would be better to wrap it in a bit of plastic, instead of swallowing it, go to the other end of the track and hide it in your bottom.

That way you don't risk choking yourself when you try to swallow it, and the card would not need to go through the acid bath. You will also be able to "retrieve" it more quickly.

If you do go for the micro sd card. Perhaps it is just small enough that you can cut a slit somewhere in the body and hide it under your skin. The bottom of your feet seems to be a good idea as there are plenty of hardened dead skin.

Perhaps rather gross, but logically I believe these are better methods than swallowing it.

I don't really understand the situation very well, however I guess photographers covering war and natural disasters have seen much worse.

Edit : I got a new idea

You will need some time for this. Go get some white glue and a tube of cosmetic that is called "BB Cream". Basically BB Cream is like the powdery foundation woman puts on to hide blemishes, just in liquid creamy form. (I am a guy, BB Cream first appeared in Korea so I do not know if it is a common products outside Asia)

White Glue (don't know what other names it got hence the photo) enter image description here enter image description here

Stick the micro SD card with the white glue somewhere, perhaps under your feet or toe, just find some place that people don't generally search. The white glue will dry transparent and the texture is just like skin. It is also flexible so it will not crack or get torn when you move.

Using the BB Cream you can conceal the whole thing making it invisible. The colour of it will blend with your skin tone and when you are home you can peel it off clean.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Water proof <> gastric-acid proof. I do like the hard foot skin idea, so +1 for that, if there is time enough \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2013 at 7:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ Using the other end, not your mouth is how huge amounts of illegal drugs and other stuff get into US prisons. Proven technology. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 27, 2013 at 2:35

I'm going to answer a different question. :-)

Instead of planning to strain my poo for the next few days, I would happily format the card and show the goons.

What I would be wagering is that they would not realize how easily one can recover images from a freshly formatted card. If that weren't good enough, I would voluntarily remove the card and give it to them. Why? I'm always shooting to two cards. Better to have them happily take one than to risk their confiscating my camera and both cards.

While this isn't the scatological sequence your question assumes, I'd rather not be a first hand participant in a study aimed at answering it. :-)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I really wouldn't count on police being completely clueless about this kind of thing nowadays. Sure, your average corrupt cop looking for a bribe is very unlikely to do anything more than using the camera's display function, but if you get arrested and the gear handed to forensics, they'll know better. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 31, 2015 at 21:21

I'd expect it to survive.
Stomach acid is reasonably nasty stuff but residence time is not vast.
You could try it now so that you know when needed.

Swallow an SD and a micro-SD at the same time. Anyone looking is more liable to find the SD and may stop at that stage.

Even if connections or PCB were damaged I'd expect the memory proper to have a good chance of survival.

Gapton's suggestion re short circuiting the process by inserting it in your body from the other end has merit EXCEPT that security / military / Police are very familiar with such methods.

Micro-SD does seem to offer some options.
In mouth between cheek and teeth may be viable.
... quick trial ... - yes, works fairly well. You could eat and drink with one there with due care. If prepared a dab of some sort of adhesive increases security. A sticker of right colour and texture would allow armpit sticking with some confidence. Perhaps.

You CAN stick a micro-SD up your nose. Don't ask me how I know :-). Further is sorer - prerounding corners may help. Probably less sore than a beating by security men OR you will not notice nose pain after having been beaten by security men.

Nicro-SD could be stuck under a flsh coloured plaster in many locations. You are in trouble if it is found. Roof of mouth may be viable with proper goo.

The really keen may manage to insert in sinuses from mouth side. I did not try !!!

"EyeFi" WiFi enable card to store somewhere else on person or in bag,. Very viable. Some camera allow per folder deletion. [WiFi from stomach would be a good trick :-) ]].

I have been known when in far flung places to swap memory cards and hide one elsewhere in extreme circumstances. It's never proved to have been useful as things turned out, so far. I'd like to keep it that way.

Deleted photos or formated card can almost always be recovered if card is not used subsequently.

Some cameras allow you to hide selected photos from playback on a picture by picture basis. (Nikon D700 is one such)

Some camera swill playback video if video was last used and still if stills were last used. Changing between may be non trivial. My Sony A77 does this and I think some other Sony's do too. [I actually find it annoying]. A brief burst of videoing after a sequence of still will show only videos on card review - until the next still is taken.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "suck it and see". Much better to try ahead of time. Of course, "they" might induce vomiting or administer laxatives. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 26, 2013 at 7:39

The one possibility everyone has missed is storing the micro SD card in a hollowed US nickel. I have used this successfully in investigation situations where I knew I would be detained. Most security staff are grossly undereducated for the job, a plus in such a case. You must have several SD cards on you, as well as coins, to be sure to be ready. You also need to practice diligently and in different situations that would be similar to what you are expecting. Hiding the SD card or anything else for hat matter in yourself or your bowels is too old school and number 1 on the security check list. The coin is still doable. Just search google for "spy coin".

And finally, another option, if you are able to return to the location, is to bury it in the ground and note the GPS location. This is in fact the safest and best solution, because the evidence is not on your person. It also allows a colleague to retrieve the SD card while you are detained. Of ourselves this assumes you can use a GPS. If not, you will have to make a mental note of the location.

In delicate situations you should always be working in teams with an offsite partner monitoring your progress in real time including your GPS location. If GPS or radio/cell are not an option or not possible, then there are other methods of monitoring.


Not to be taken as an answer, just a summary of the above plus a few observations. +1 to everyone, including OP for a very interesting question.

This depends very much on circumstances and OP is not quite clear. Is he swallowing the card when the security forces have nabbed him, or when they look like they might and he has a few minutes time to do something?

It also depends on the technical sophistication of said security forces and that might vary on a case by case basis.

For instance: - If the “arresting officers are shown the photos on the camera and they seem innocuous, will they let you go? And how much do you trust that given the possible consequences. One could imagine switching cards, or formatting and saying that one had not yet begun to photograph, but .. - will the boys back at the station be smart enough to unformat/undelete?

You could auto-upload by wifi – what are the chances of that being monitored? Probably slim, but is it worth the risk? Only the OP can know the possible consequences. Even if the camera would auto-delete after update, can the lab guys undelete? If it’s not auto can you be sure that you will remember to manually undelete each time? And can the lab boys undelete it?

Do any DSLRs offer in-camera file encryption? is probably answered “no”, but even if it were yes, would it be recognized as encryption and the password beaten out of you?

Switching cards and secreting the original, especially a micro-SD, seems like a good idea. Where to secrete? I really liked the idea of slitting the hardened skin on the sole of the foot – very 007. Up the nostril, inside the cheek, in your ear (in your rear ;-), (hmm, read the Choirboys, where the bookie’s runner keeps bets on small slips of paper under his foreskin). Under a plaster, slit the top of your belt slightly and lisp in there?

And, if it does come down to swallowing – follow the advice given and try it now (but remember that “they” might induce vomiting or administer laxatives.

A fascinating intellectual exercise and I am grateful that my liberty does not depend upon the result.


Well, if it's for something like underage porn, don't bother. It's only a matter of time before you get caught. The sooner the better.

Recently reading the history of "Tank Man" though, made me take a closer look at this subject. Tank man is of course the Chinese protester who stopped the entire column of tanks with a simple, nonviolent stand down.

The "tank man" picture was literally one of the most prolific pictures of the 20th century... and it took some guts to SMUGGLE IT OUT OF THE COUNTRY. This goes to show there are many legal and ethical reasons for wanting some pictures concealed from the wrong people...

I like the idea of having a backup decoy card. That would really take the suspicion off of you for sure. With micro SDs though, there are a million places to stash them. One idea that comes to mind is bubblegum. If getting searched by a cop, they'll ask you to spit it out... it will be hiding in plain sight. If it gets x rayed, well most chewing gum these days is actually made from PLASTIC, believe it or not, so it may just blend right in. You could even stick it on the bottom of your shoe! NO COP is going to dig through your nasty used bubble gum for evidence... EVER.

Another idea would be to put it in a slit in your shoe. Behind, or in your wrist watch. Also, something like a ring, necklace, earrings or other piece of modified jewelry may be a good idea. A hearing aid may work well too.

Really, think about anything that a person may carry on them. Cigarettes. A cigarette lighter, matches, change, keys, gum, mints, candy, chapstick etc. They have rubber sleeves you can put over your keys (with little happy faces or whatever) people use to color code them that would work great to slip a micro SD under in a pinch.

Swallowing one would probably be a no go. I've read of them being recovered that way. So it would probably be best to save yourself the agony of the "extraction process" to just hand it over if it came to that. The only way out of that one (maybe) would be to encrypt your files with "trucrypt". From what I understand, they can't make you hand over your passwords in the U.S. but can most everywhere else.

The next safety precaution would be to "layer" your photos with something like Lolcatz or pictures of boobs or whatever. You can remove the top layer with photoshop and viola, good as new. That way, if they intercept your SD, they will just see grumpy cat and not the shocking news coverage you just obtained.

I found the best security is done in layers. Not just one method, but several. It's also best if done "hiding in plain sight". People don't search for things that are literally staring them in the face. It also increases the chance of "plausible deniability" if you get caught.



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