Date Awarded
Grant Period
01/01/13 to 01/31/14
Focus Area
Media Innovation
Knight News Challenge

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Featured Media

For a mobile application to verify and authenticate media shared from mobile devices

In situations of conflict or civil unrest, where ordinary people are using their mobile phones to create and share media, news organizations and others have trouble authenticating the origins of photos, videos or audio.  In collaboration with The Guardian Project, the international human rights organization WITNESS seeks to solve this problem by launching the InformaCam app. The mobile app allows users to incorporate key metadata in their video (who, what, where, corroborating identifiers), watermark it as coming from a particular camera, and share it in an encrypted format with someone the user trusts. News outlets, human rights organizations and everyday people could use the app in a variety of ways - for a breaking news story using first-hand video from a citizen journalist, sharing evidence of war crimes from a conflict zone, or to verify the images of a fender bender that someone could take to small claims court. Alongside this, WITNESS is advocating for incorporation of a “citizen witness” functionality based on InformaCam into other platforms and apps.

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Project Team

Sam Gregory

Nathan Freitas is a long-time mobile technology innovator and global human rights activist and trainer. Through his work in support of the Tibetan independence movement over the last 13 years, Nathan came to understand the promise and peril of applying new technology to activists in high-risk situations, and in response founded the Guardian Project in 2009. Freitas also teaches “Social Activism using Mobile Technology” at NYU's Interactive Telecommunication Program. He is currently on a six-month research trip in India, Nepal, Thailand and Burma, tracking adoption of low cost smartphones and 3G networks throughout the region.

Sam Gregory is the program director for WITNESS. He is an internationally recognized human rights advocate, trainer and video producer who helps people use the power of the moving image and participatory technologies to create human rights change. As program director he focuses on empowering millions of people to use video effectively, safely and ethically. In 2010, he was a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Resident on the future of video-based advocacy, and in 2012 he was named a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. He teaches on human rights and participatory media as an adjunct lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School. 

Harlo Holmes is a media scholar, software programmer, and activist.  As research fellow with The Guardian Project, she primarily investigates topics in digital media steganography, metadata, and the standards surrounding technology in the social sciences.  She harnesses her multifaceted background in service of responding to the growing technological needs of human rights workers, journalists, and other do-gooders around the world. Holmes is currently based in New York City.

Bryan Nunez is the technology manager at WITNESS where he oversees the development of projects like the Hub, the first website dedicated to citizen human rights media, and the Secure Smart Cam, a suite of camera-phone apps for human rights activists. Prior to WITNESS, he was a technology strategist and consultant on a variety of projects ranging from online banking to interactive television. He is an alumnus of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at NYU and has a BA in anthropology from UC Berkeley.

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