The ease and accessibility of modern photo editing tools has greatly complicated the use of photographic evidence in court cases. Juries may be skeptical of the reliability of photos, and both legislation and legal precedent have raised the bar for what is admissible as evidence. In the U.S., a particular issue is the prosecution of child pornography cases. Because the Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that virtual child porn that does not involve the participation of real children is protected free speech, it has become critical to provide evidence that offending images are authentic photographs that have not been altered.
The results of a FourMatch analysis can provide powerful evidence that an image has not been modified since it left the capture device. When an image receives a green light in FourMatch, it indicates that the state of the image file remains in a form that is known to be created by that camera. Because any use of off-the-shelf editing tools like Adobe Photoshop would have disturbed this signature, a full signature match delivers a high degree of confidence that the image has not been modified.
As we fast approach a future in which there’s a smartphone in every pocket, news increasingly breaks through social media, directly from eye witnesses. Unfortunately, social media is also a rich source of photo hoaxes and memes. In such an environment, how can you know whether a photo can be trusted? Can it be safe to publish these photos as news, or to use them in criminal investigations?
The best solution, of course, is to track down the source of the photo, and request an original file. If the alleged original passes the FourMatch test, you can have high confidence that the image can be trusted. Even if you can’t obtain the original file, FourMatch can help you to make a more informed decision. The failure to match a signature does not inherently mean that the image is untruthful. On the other hand, matching at least certain portions of the signature and finding no obvious signs of manipulation in the metadata can give you more confidence in the file.
A variety of transactions and communications now happen over the web, but that results in a reliance on user-submitted photos whenever visual evidence is required to accompany the transaction. Whether you’re receiving insurance claims, contest entries, or sales information, you can use FourMatch to reduce the occurrence of fraud. Simply state explicitly that all submitted photos must be unretouched originals. When a submitted photo passes the FourMatch test, then you can feel confident accepting it without further scrutiny. If it fails, you’ll probably want to follow up by gathering further information.