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Communications of the ACM


The State of Fakery

dog image created by GAN algorithm

An image of a dog created by a deep convolutional generative adversarial network (GAN) algorithm.

Credit: Intel AI

Back in 1999, Hany Farid was finishing his postdoctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was in a library when he stumbled on a book called The Federal Rules of Evidence. The book caught his eye, and Farid opened to a random page, on which was a section entitled "Introducing Photos into a Court of Law as Evidence." Since he was interested in photography, Farid wondered what those rules were.

While Farid was not surprised to learn that a 35mm negative is considered admissible as evidence, he was surprised when he read that then-new digital media would be treated the same way. "To put a 35mm file and a digital file on equal footing with respect to reliability of evidence seemed problematic to me," says Farid, now a computer science professor at Dartmouth College and a leading expert on digital forensics. "Anyone could see where the trends were going."


Richard Altmaier

Dear Ms Shein, thanks for this article. I thought that courts had decided that photos and records must be treated as testimony of the person providing them! That is, a photo is only as trustworthy as the person testifying that "I took that photo". It is your word as the recorder.
Any other sourcing, without a person claiming to have taken it, or being in a provable chain of control from say an automated camera, is totally subject to being a fake.

Is such not established court treatment of photos, audio, and video recordings?

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