A mobile app by The GuardianProject and WITNESS that captures and preserves the metadata of images and video.

Imagine that you are on holiday in Scotland by the Lock Ness and you see a shape moving in the water, you take out your mobile phone and take the picture of the century of the illusive Nessie the Lock Ness monster. You send it around to all your friends and family and soon the news agencies pick it up. However then the world starts to call your picture a fake. If only the image you had taken had been verified! Well, this is what the mobile app CameraV offers.  

"The Surgeon's Photograph" said to be taken by Robert Kenneth Wilson in April 21 1934

CameraV is a mobile app created by The Guardian Project and WITNESS. The V in the app's name stands for verification and it was created to add a large amount of extra metadata to a photograph or video in order to verify its authenticity. This piece of software does two things. Firstly it describes the who, what, when, where, why and how of images and video. Secondly it establishes a chain of custody that could be pointed to in a court of law.

The app captures a lot of metadata at the time of the image is shot including, not only geo-location information (which has always been standard), but corroborating data such as visible wifi networks, cell tower IDs and bluetooth signals from others in the area. It has additional information such as light meter values, that can go towards corroborating a story where you might want to tell what time of the day it is.

All of that data is then cryptographically signed by a key that only your device is capable of generating, encrypted to a trusted destination of your choice and sent off over proxy to a secure repository hosted by a number of places such as Global Leaks, or even Google Drive. Once received, the data contained within the image can be verified via a number of fingerprinting techniques so the submitter, maintaining their anonymity if they want to, is still uniquely identifiable to the receiver. 

Image taken from the CameraV guide by the Guardian Project

It's Great Because...

It's the only open-source app that has been created to verify images and video that have been taken on an Andriod phone. Along with its user-friendly interface, CameraV also has strong encryption and network security built-in, and it leaves it up to the user to encrypt her files and to decide how she wants to share that data and with whom. 

But Watch Out For...

Being on a phone other than an Android! This app only works with Android phones.

Learning curve


How to you use it?

Download the app from Google Play onto your android phone (download of the source code is available here). There is a very detailed guideavailable on the Guardian Project's website that walks users through the process of installing the app, taking the image or video with synchronised sensor metadata capture, notarising captured photos and videos to generate a unique visual fingerprint identifer and finally sharing the media files privately or publicly with the metadata embedded within them for later use. 

Image taken from the CameraV guide by the Guardian Project

Do I Need To Be On The Internet To Use It?

Yes, at least to send your certified images and videos to a trusted server. Although that can be done after having recorded the photo and video offline. 

How Do You Get Data Into It?

After opening CameraV on your Android device, record the video and pictures, fill the extra metadata fields, crypt and sign the files and finally send them to a trusted server. The extra metadata fields you can fill include information like the user’s current GPS coordinates, altitude, compass bearing, light meter readings, the signatures of neighboring devices, cell towers, and wifi networks.

How Do You Get Data Out Of It?

You can save the image or video with the new metadata and sign with your digital signature.

Any Privacy Concerns With This Tool?

CameraV has strong encryption and network security built-in using technology OpenPGP, IOCipher and Tor. PGP protects against tampering of files however any app that uses mobile metadata, or any apparatus that takes metadata and embeds it in photos or video is going to have to be a trustworthy device. 

Where can I learn more?

  • Go here to read the guide for CameraV's app

  • The Developer Squaregroup discussing Smart Camera technology 

  • Harlo Holmes's interview, the previous lead technologist on this project, discussing in more detail the inner workings of CameraV with Exposing the Invisible.