Media Contacts:
For WITNESS: Matisse Bustos Hawkes
718.783.2000 ext. 306  / @matissebh

For the Knight Foundation: Patrick Kowalczyk / 212.627.8098




First app that addresses questions of authentication of mobile media

through enabling important metadata to be encrypted and distributed securely



New York, NY -  January 17, 2013 - The human rights organization WITNESS and The Guardian Project, the mobile security and app development experts, have been awarded a Knight News Challenge for Mobile grant by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for their mobile app InformaCam.


The Knight News Challenge for Mobile accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. InformaCam - the first mobile app seeking to address issues of authentication for digital media - is one of eight winners in this Challenge.


The mobile phone has become the de facto tool for documenting dramatic events in the world around us. “Through events like the Arab Spring, we’ve seen rapid growth in content from every day people on the ground, and journalists have had to figure out how to verify it. This project by WITNESS has the ability to address a real need in today's newsrooms," said John Bracken, program director for journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation.


Sam Gregory, program director at WITNESS noted, “Beyond newsrooms, human rights organizations and courts of law also receive citizen-shot media but it is often missing vital information that would enable them to verify the story - such as who shot it, who might have handled it since its creation, and surrounding context. In short, a reliable source of data that can answer, “Is this for real?””


WITNESS’ technology manager Bryan Nunez continued, “Any effort to make sure citizen media can be authenticated and used as evidence needs to leverage mobile devices and the networks used to transfer and distribute this media.” InformaCam is the first such app that attempts to address these needs.


InformaCam allows users to incorporate key metadata into their video file (who, what, where, and other identifiers), to watermark it as coming from a particular camera, and share it in an encrypted format with someone the user trusts.


“A mobile app alone will not solve the issues related to authenticating video and photos, nor will it replace good journalistic practice, but it will give those looking to verify digital media a big head start,” said Nathan Freitas, founder of The Guardian Project.


WITNESS is also advocating that social media platforms and video sharing sites incorporate an opt-in function - a "witnessing" mode -  based on InformaCam’s features that allows for easier authentication of videos and photos. This would enable people the option to use mainstream platforms for sharing critical news events while increasing the usability of their media.


The News Challenge, one of three launched in 2012 by the Knight Foundation, accelerates projects with funding and advice from Knight’s network of media innovators. For the mobile round, Knight Foundation sought ideas that harness mobile technology to inform and engage communities.


WITNESS, The Guardian Project and all winners of the Challenge will present their projects via livestream at 12:30 p.m. EST |10:30 a.m. MST Friday Jan. 18, from a gathering on the future of media at Arizona State University.




Notes to media: Sam Gregory and Bryan Nunez of WITNESS and Nathan Freitas and Harlo Holmes of the Guardian Project are available for interview. Please contact Matisse Bustos Hawkes at WITNESS to arrange interviews. Contact Patrick Kowalczyk at PKPR for information on the full list of Challenge for Mobile winners or to interview Michael Maness, VP for journalism and media innovation at Knight Foundation. 


About the Knight Foundation
The Knight Foundation, the nation’s leading funder of journalism and media innovation, is committed to promoting democracy by supporting informed and engaged communities. Founded by newsmen John S. and James L. Knight, the foundation launched the Knight News Challenge in 2007 to find the next generation of innovations that help communities get the information they need.


About the Guardian Project
The Guardian Project creates easy-to-use apps, mobile OS security enhancements, and customized mobile devices for people around the world to help them communicate more freely, and protect themselves from intrusion and monitoring.


WITNESS uses video to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. WITNESS empowers people to transform personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.

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