Verify: Authenticity Displays
Verification is the final step in the Starling Framework of Capture, Store, and Verify and is the piece of the puzzle that connects the work we do to capture and store media with consumers.
What is Verification?
Verification is the final step in the Starling Framework of Capture, Store, Verify. It’s the piece of the puzzle that connects the work we do to capture and store authenticated data with the world at large. Our verification displays embed information that enables an audience to inspect the origins, alterations, and completeness of a digital record. With these displays, audiences should be able to judge the trustworthiness and draw their own conclusions about a piece of digital media.
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The Starling Lab for Data Integrity both develops our own web components for displaying authenticity, has developed prototypes with news outlets such as Rolling Stone, Rueters, and AP, as well as implemented other display solutions such as Four Corners.
You can see examples of the web components we have developed, and view the source code in the Starling Lab public Github repository. We often use a standard called C2PA for our metadata. As metadata standards evolve with new data presentation capabilities, these visualization tools must also evolve
Photographic Authenticity Displays
Starling Lab has created and collaborated on and created several prototypes for displaying authenticity data related to media content. There are a number of different standards that we have experimented with to display information about not only the original content, but iterations and changes to the media.
In addition, the Verify Tool created by the Content Authenticity Initiative (stewards of the C2PA Standards) enables you to inspect a photograph that has C2PA metadata contained in its ‘package’. They refer to this as “Content Credentials.”
When you view an image that has this C2PA data, you can see who produced it, who added their cryptographic signature, and the edits that were made (with a description and thumbnails of these changes)
Bay City News
Bay City News has created an authenticated “time capsule” of images documenting the Bay Area’s homelessness crisis while transparently tracking data from relevant government agencies. For the series of articles that Starling Lab collaborated on with Bay City News, the Four Corners tool was used. This interface not only displays authenticity information, but also related content and a backstory.
Each of the corners can be clicked to view additional information about the photographs.
Learn more about the collaboration and the technology in this ‘Nuts and Bolts’ article.
For 78 Days, teams at the Starling Lab and Reuters worked together to document the presidential transition from Donald Trump to Joe Biden with an array of new image authentication technologies and decentralized web protocols.
The prototype archive that we created is a time capsule for both this historic moment in U.S. politics and a microcosm of the difficulties reporting the news in our digital age, as allegations of fake news and altered digital photos abound.
In the archive, you can see images as well as authenticity information from photos from 78 Days.
In the archive, you can not only see images, but also as authenticity information.
Clicking View More in the i display allows you to inspect the image using the Verify tool.
You can also use the Verify tools to view a manifest of modifications made to any given image.
Inside Climate News
The collaboration the Lab did with Inside Climate News also features the Four Corners tool and registration information. This investigation also adds preservation information on Filecoin and IPFS.
End-To-End Authenticity Collaboration: Reuters + Canon
As a follow up to the 78 Days collaboration, Starling Lab and Reuters teamed up with Canon on a unique prototype using FotoWare’s digital asset management system and cameras that added a cryptographic signature alongside the pixels and metadata captured at source.
Photographs displayed on the custom site contain an orange fingerprint icon in the bottom left hand corner.
Clicking in, basic photo capture information is displayed including the capture date and method.
You can click the buttons on the first page to see a map, inspect the changes with the Verify tool, and view the metadata, including the C2PA Manifest.
Further down in this record, you can see the blockchain registrations and links to the different distributed, peer-to-peer file sharing and archiving systems these files are preserved on. You can also access verification information; a record of the initial entries of this data in the ProvenDB database, anchored and timestamped on Hedera; the logs of all the changes done in Photoshop to these photographs; and a record of the metadata logs as new versions are created.
In this display, you can see the distributed, peer-to-peer storage locations and the database records, proofs, and metadata creation and modification logs.
Hong Kong Legislative Elections
In a collaboration with South China Morning Post for a series of articles on the Hong Kong Legislative Elections, we helped document and display authenticity information of photographs taken during two key elections.
Users can click on the ‘i’ tool in each of the articles to inspect information about the displays.
Though these articles are behind a paywall, you can view an example embed published by Starling Lab https://starlinglab.github.io/web-experiments/c2pa-sample2/. You can also view these images with the Verify tool.
Web Archive Authenticity Displays
AP Tracked Series
The Associated Press’s Tracked series investigated how the technology used to help track and control the spread of COVID-19 was also used by some state and governmental organizations for surveillance not related to the pandemic. In this example, you can see a view of a preserved tweet.
This display featured an inspection tool developed by the Webrecorder team who are the creators of the tools we use to capture web archives as well as display them. The web replay tool has a display option that enables consumers to expand a drop-down with capture and authenticity information.
Black Voice News - Combating Racism as a Public Health Crisis
In a collaboration with Black Voice News, Starling Lab is worked with the newsroom and the Esri development team. Together, we’re enhancing the Combating Racism as a Public Health Crisis interactive map display that is a part of the Mapping Black California project to display interactive web archives as a part of a data dashboard tracking public statements by various institutions about the commitments they have made to this cause.
This project required scraping almost 350 public records, social media posts, videos, and other web content that was at risk of being taken down. By collecting this large set of web archives, Starling Lab and Black Voice News prototyped how we can prevent the ‘link rot’ (takedown or loss of web content) and preserve valuable and actionable information alongside verifiable evidence about the source and authenticity of these web records. There was a four part articles series and a technical summary published about the effort made to collect this data and how it is can be preserved and used drive meaningful change.
Document Authenticity Displays
The DJ and the War Crimes
The collaboration Starling Lab did with Rolling Stone for the DJ and the War Crimes resulted in a massive archive of photographs, web pages, social media posts, and documents scraped from various sources across the internet. These included never-before-published images from renowned photographer Ron Haviv.
Explore an archive of an individual piece of media with authenticity, and registration information.
See the blockchain transactions where a hash of the archived content was registered.
The archive displays an extensive collection of the records collected for this Emmy-nominated interactive media investigation.
The archive features a number of different types of data, including:
Redacted Documents using ZK Proofs
Mom I See War
Mom, I See War (MISW) is the first known digital archive to document the way children experience war by preserving high-resolution jpeg scans of their drawings, metadata about the drawings, and encrypted versions that contain private, identifying information (the last names) of the children. MISW has a collection of 10,026 single-image assets from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which Starling Lab registered on the NEAR blockchain and archived on distributed web protocols.
The Numbers Protocol’s cross-chain search engine has an interface to display registration information alongside the drawings & metadata. See the example on Numbers Search.
Once the regular versions of the drawing and metadata were registered, C2PA-compliant versions of these assets were also created. The presence of an icon indicates that an asset includes C2PA metadata.
Conclusion – Metadata Standards
Digital media takes many different forms and comes from a variety of different sources. As a result, the authenticity information for each type of digital media will look different. Depending on the tools used to capture media, the resources available when and where something is captured, and the technology available to create the records, the information available to be displayed will vary.
As industry and technology standards evolve to meet the needs that emerge, it is important to look forward and consider the fact there are a number of different media types. There are also a variety of standards for metadata, including C2PA, International Standard Content Code (ISCC), Likecoin’s ISCN schema, and Universal Scene Description (USD) for 3D scenes. We should consider and ideally accommodate all of these media types and standards.
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