Knight News Challenge funds photography app with built-in verification data

by Jeff Sonderman

A mobile app that will help amateur journalists send photos to news organizations securely and with embedded verification data is among eight projects funded by the latest Knight News Challenge grants.

“Clearly the spread of citizen-generated, amateur-driven content is here to stay. But we still have not developed the mechanisms and tools for understanding that content, verifying that content, feeling comfortable about using that content,” Knight Foundation Director of Journalism and Media Innovation John Bracken told me.

The Knight-funded solution is an Android app called InformaCam — to be built by mobile security specialists at The Guardian Project and human rights advocates at Witness.

Witness, which was granted $320,000 by Knight, works with volunteers around the world who document evidence of abuse using smartphones. The organization realized it needed a better way of doing that — a photography app that would automatically embed metadata in photos to certify their accuracy, and transmit the photos securely to Witness or a designated news organization.

Secure transmission is especially important when the photographer is documenting something that authorities might want to suppress.

“That same data that helps the BBC confirm that this was filmed in a particular town in Syria by a particular person on a particular day, is of course the same information that can be valuable to a repressive government or someone who has worse intentions,” Witness program director Sam Gregory said in an interview.



About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

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