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The First Standard to Assure a Photo’s Authenticity Has Been Created


In an effort to combat online misinformation, the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA) has released the first-ever technical specification designed to certify the source and history of digital media.

Content Authenticity

C2PA was launched in February of 2021 and is a unification of the efforts from the Adobe-led Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) — which focuses on systems to provide context and history for digital media — and Project Origin, a Microsoft and BBC-led project that was designed to tackle disinformation in the digital news ecosystem.

The CAI was first announced at Adobe MAX in 2019 and was started with the goal of permanently attaching attribution and other metadata to an image in order to combat misinformation online. Over time, that project has grown and numerous companies and publications have joined in on it to support it.

Last October, Adobe built in a new feature into Photoshop called Content Credentials that allows creators to attach attribution data to images before sharing them online, a launch of a feature the company originally announced in late 2020.

The First Technical Specification and Standard for Provenance of Media

The C2PA has published version 1.0 of its technical specification is the first of its kind and is designed to empower content creators and editors to create tamper-evident media by enabling them to selectively disclose information about who created or changed digital content and how it was altered.

“Given the deluge of digital content and rapidly advancing technology, it is challenging for consumers to trust what they see online. Deceptive content, such as deepfakes generated by artificial intelligence or more traditionally manipulated media, can be indistinguishable from the real thing, so establishing the provenance of media is critical to ensure transparency, understanding, and trust,” the C2PA explains.

“This C2PA specification will provide platforms with a method to define what information is associated with each type of asset (e.g., images, videos, audio, or documents), how that information is presented and stored, and how evidence of tampering can be identified. As an open standard, it is designed to be adopted by any software, device, or online platform as well as by regulatory bodies and government agencies to establish standards for digital provenance.”

Version 1.0 of the CP2A spec includes guidance for implementation, security considerations, user experience guidelines, and full details on the goals and fundamentals of the program.

In short, the specifications are designed to enable global, opt-in, adoption of digital provenance techniques through the creation of a rich ecosystem of digital provenance enabled applications for a wide range of individuals and organizations while meeting appropriate security and privacy requirements, as well as human rights considerations.

The full specification can be read on the C2PA website.


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