As AI imagery becomes more realistic and the barrier to entry for AI image creation gets lower, the need to authenticate whether an image is real or fake is imperative.
While fake imagery has always been an issue in the world of photojournalism, AI imagery and the like have made things drastically worse. Because while manipulating images is one thing, creating images from nothing but a thought and selling them as real is an entirely different story. And this is the problem that Sony aims to solve with its new In-Camera Authenticity Technology.
This technology aims to combat the problem by applying a machine-based digital signature to image files at the point of capture. Because the signature is applied inside the camera, it removes any opportunities for images to be manipulated between capture and delivery.
While this may seem similar to what Leica recently announced with its new M11-P, the difference is that the Leica technology currently uses a dedicated processor for the signature to be applied. The technology that Sony is using is built off current hardware, not only making it easier to implement in future cameras but also making the technology backward compatible with certain older models via firmware updates. So, while the Leica version of authenticity is still a great thing, the Sony version makes everything more accessible, giving it a chance for wider implementation.
As part of the round two testings that was just completed for this technology, Associated Press (AP) worked with Camera Bits (creator of the widely used Photo Mechanic Software) to ensure that the digital signature remained intact through a normal photojournalism workflow as well as to assure that the added signature did not slow down current processes. This partnership between Sony and AP is a great thing for the general public because “fake and manipulated images are a major concern for news organizations. Not only do they contribute to mis- and disinformation, but ultimately, they erode the public’s trust in factual, accurate imagery,” said David Ake, AP Director of Photography.
Although this technology has not been fully released or finalized, plans are for the Crypto-Signature to be accessible on the new Sony a9 III as well as the older Sony a1 and Sony a7 III via firmware update.