Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Privacy concerns and authentication of video and images


I've seen a lot of these types of memes floating around the internet. There's a dedicated group of activists who regularly record police activities and police contacts with the public. If you're LE, and you think what you're doing is private, think again. You're likely about to be the star of your own YouTube channel - unbeknownst to you.

When your internal investigators receive video from the public as part of a complaint, do your investigators automatically take the video as authentic? When YouTube video is involved, does your agency accept what it sees on the screen, or do they question the chain of custody, authenticity, source, and etc?

Chances are, they believe what they see. In my work on People v. Abdullah (BA353334, Los Angeles County Superior Court, December 2009), I was able to determine that the defendant had introduced completely fraudulent video - a complete fabrication. My work in authenticating the video led to a large mea culpa on the part of the defense counsel, but also helped preserve the careers of two of LA's finest.

Just because it's on film, or a thumb drive, doesn't make it authentic. While I am not saying that the activist groups are up to no good, I am saying that efforts should be made by the relevant authorities to determine the authenticity of the video footage submitted. If it's your career, you'll want to know that the video's been authenticated by an independent third party. That's where we come in.

I'll be speaking more about this in the future, and presenting an authentication workshop at the Spring 2013 NaTIA Pacific Chapter meeting. Stay tuned.

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