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

In photos: Historic California wildfires ravage over 1 million acres

Firefighters monitor a backfire as they work the Walbridge fire in Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve protecting the heritage trees in Guerneville, Calif. on Aug. 25. Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in California Wednesday, as hundreds of fires raze over 1.4 million acres in a natural disaster that's seen over 100,000 people placed on evacuation orders.

The big picture: At least seven deaths have been reported and dozens of properties razed amid dismal air quality. The fires have brought another crisis to a state reporting the most coronavirus infections in the country.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,065,728 — Total deaths: 944,604— Total recoveries: 20,423,802Map
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,674,070 — Total deaths: 197,615 — Total recoveries: 2,540,334 — Total tests: 90,710,730Map
  3. Politics: Former Pence aide says she plans to vote for Joe Biden, accusing Trump of costing lives in his coronavirus response.
  4. Health: Pew: 49% of Americans would not get COVID-19 vaccine if available today Pandemic may cause cancer uptick The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine — COVID-19 racial disparities extend to health coverage losses.
  5. Business: Retail sales return to pre-coronavirus trend.
Ina Fried, author of Login
6 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: How the Oracle-TikTok deal would work

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An agreement between TikTok's Chinese owner ByteDance and Oracle includes a variety of concessions in an effort to make the deal palatable to the Trump administration and security hawks in Congress, according to a source close to the companies.

Driving the news: The deal, in the form of a 20-page term sheet agreed to in principle by the companies, would give Oracle unprecedented access and control over user data as well as other measures designed to ensure that Americans' data is protected, according to the source.