Photoshop: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A group whose members include Adobe, Twitter and the New York Times Monday offered a plan for restoring trust in photos and video in the face of a rising tide of digital fakery.

Why it matters: Deepfakes — images manipulated or generated by AI in a deceptive way — undermine trust both by tricking people into thinking phony images or videos are real and by making them doubt the veracity of real imagery.

Driving the news: The Content Authenticity Initiative Monday released a white paper outlining an open standard for a photo and video authentication system that could be built into both hardware such as cameras and smartphones and software such as Photoshop.

  • The system would record a digital signature when a photo or video is first taken, and then again each time it's edited in any way. Users would be able to see that record of the imagery's origin and any changes that have been made to it.

The idea is a flexible standard aimed at protecting privacy and safety.

  • Photojournalists, for instance, could tag themselves as the creator of a photo and geotag it to a specific location.
  • The system could also simply authenticate that a photo was taken with a standard-compliant device, without identifying who took it or where.

Context: The white paper represents the first public fruits of nearly two years of labor by the CAI.

  • Several firms already offer digital authentication technology, including charter CAI member Truepic, but an open standard offers the hope of a universal system.

What they're saying: The group views authenticating images from their creation to the time they're seen online as a more promising approach than trying to detect deepfakes once they're already in circulation.

  • Even the best entry in Facebook's Deepfake Detection Challenge was only able to detect them 65% of the time, per results the company announced in June.
  • "That's only slightly better than a coin toss," Sherif Hanna, Truepic's vice president of R&D and a co-author of the paper, told Axios. "Instead of all of us trying to get to where we can detect what's fake, we should prove what's real."

What's next: Members are working on prototypes for implementing the standard in software and hardware, though Hanna declined to offer a timeline for when tech built on the standard will come to market.

Go deeper

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New York began its early voting period on Saturday, prompting long lines with people waiting to cast their ballots.

The big picture: America has seen an uptick in mail-in and early voting this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing and poll-worker shortages could make voting on Election Day a lengthy and potentially chaotic process, but early voting measures have still seen backlogs.

Zeta, now a Category 2 Hurricane, makes landfall on Louisiana coast

The probable path of Zeta, per the National Hurricane Center. Photo: NHC/NOAA

Zeta, classified as a "significant" Category 2 hurricane, made landfall along the southeastern coast of Louisiana on Wednesday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) requested a pre-landfall Emergency Declaration in a letter to President Trump on Tuesday. The hurricane is producing 110-mph maximum sustained winds and stronger gusts. The core of Zeta — including its destructive eyewall — moved ashore near Cocodrie.

Supreme Court won't expedite Pennsylvania GOP's request to block mail-in ballot extension

Amy Coney Barrett being sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts. Photo: Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States via Getty Images

The Supreme Court voted 5-3 on Wednesday to deny a bid from Pennsylvania Republicans to expedite their request to shorten the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots. Newly-confirmed Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate in the decision.

Why it matters: A lower court ruling allowing ballots to be counted until 5 p.m. on Nov. 6, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, will remain in place for now.

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