Using prototype Canon camera and Starling Lab’s authentication framework, pilot programme helps alleviate consumers’ concerns about genuineness of news images
London, UK, 30 August 2023 – Thomson Reuters, a global content and technology company, Canon, a world-leading provider of imaging and information technology solutions, and Starling Lab, an academic research lab based at Stanford and USC innovating with the latest cryptographic methods and decentralised web protocols, announced today the completion of a pilot programme demonstrating how news organisations could certify the authenticity of an image and ease concerns about content’s legitimacy.
In collaboration with Canon, global news organisation Reuters proved its ability to embed trust into a photograph from its source by preserving a picture’s data provenance chain of integrity - the image’s metadata - from the point of capture to publication. Reuters also successfully integrated Starling Lab’s authentication framework into its picture desk workflow. One of the first practical news-gathering applications of the technology, this pilot comes at a time when consumers are increasingly worried about their ability to distinguish between real and fake news on the internet, and recent advancements in generative AI technologies which are making it easier for anyone to create visuals to deceive or misinform viewers.
“Trust in news is critical. However, recent technological advancements in image generation and manipulation are causing more people to question what is real, and what is not. Reuters continues to explore new technologies to guarantee that the content we deliver to the world be factual and trusted,” said Rickey Rogers, Global Editor, Reuters Pictures. “Our collaboration with Canon demonstrates the potential for new technology in image verification to increase consumers’ confidence that what they see is genuine. We look forward to sharing the encouraging findings from the project with our customers and applying them to protect our photojournalism. Our goal is to remain one of the most trusted global news sources.”
The pilot project saw Reuters photojournalist Violeta Santos Moura capture pictures using a prototype Canon camera that digitally assigns each photograph and its corresponding time, date and location with a unique identifier (hash value) and then cryptographically signs them to establish a root of trust for their authenticity. The photos are then registered into a public blockchain and updated after each modification by the Reuters pictures desk. This process continues until the photo is distributed with its metadata, edit history and blockchain registration embedded in the photograph using the new C2PA standard. To verify the picture’s authenticity, news customers can compare its unique identifier (hash value) on the public ledger.
“Many photojournalists rely on Canon technologies. We understand the role that images play in society and recognise the importance of preserving image authenticity”, said Richard Shepherd, Product Marketing and Marketing Strategy Senior Manager, Canon Europe. “Working as part of the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI), Canon wants to take meaningful measures to protect image outputs that serve the news community worldwide.”