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Police officer wearing a body camera. Photo: Felix Hörhager/picture alliance/Getty Images

Every weapon is on the table in the war against democracy-disrupting deepfakes — from technology to detect the AI-altered videos and audio to legislation that would punish creating and distributing them.

The big problem is that these solutions don't work yet. So a third approach is gaining traction: developing a way to verify that a video hasn't been altered.

The big picture: The bet is that authenticating videos — tracing them back to their source, like an expensive diamond — is a better solution than trying to sniff out forgeries after they've already been made, which is extremely hard.

Amber Video, a San Francisco startup, creates a breadcrumb trail that begins the moment a video is recorded.

  • It uploads a unique fingerprint corresponding to each video and saves it on a blockchain, so that viewers can later check to make sure it hasn't been tampered with.
  • We've also reported on Truepic, a startup that takes a similar approach.

What's going on: On Monday, Amber CEO Shamir Allibhai presented his company's technology during a meeting of the foremost deepfake warriors at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. There, he pitched video authentication for body cameras.

  • Amber Video recently brought on security researcher Josh Mitchell, who demonstrated last summer that that some bodycams can be hacked and their video altered.
  • To prevent this, Amber software — if installed on a camera — continuously uploads information called a "hash" to a blockchain. The hash can later be used to make sure that what's being played back is the very same video that was recorded.

The big challenge is getting bodycam manufacturers to install this software on their equipment. Allibhai says he's in talks with several companies, but none have committed as yet.

The bottom line: For now, deepfakes aren't the biggest worry for bodycams. They still take a while to make, and they're not quite good enough to escape close scrutiny. But nearly every expert agrees that's not going to be the case for long.

"We'll see a [police] video that's highly controversial in some way … and it's going to take 10 minutes before people start raising questions about whether it's been manipulated."
— Jay Stanley, ACLU

Go deeper

Cyberattack forces shutdown of major U.S. fuel pipeline

A police officer stands guard inside the gate to the Colonial Pipeline Co. Pelham junction and tank farm in Pelham, Alabama, in 2016. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A major U.S. fuel pipeline running from Texas to New York has been taken offline by its operator because of an apparent cyberattack.

The big picture: Colonial Pipeline "carries 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supplies," the N.Y. Times reports.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
1 hour ago - Health

The end of quarantine

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Long quarantines were a necessary tool to slow the COVID-19 pandemic during its first phases, but better and faster tests — plus vaccines — mean they can be scaled back considerably.

Why it matters: Quick tests and regular surveillance methods that identify who is actually infectious can take the place of the two-week or longer isolation periods that have been common for travelers and people who might have been exposed to the virus, speeding the safe reopening of schools and workplaces.

Amazon rollups are the hottest deals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new generation of companies is forming to scoop up Amazon marketplace sellers — and venture capital firms are writing big checks to support the effort.

Why it matters: These e-commerce aggregators are all about data and using it to optimize and turbocharge sales, which means they’re using Amazon’s own playbook.