It's getting to the point these days that we can't even trust our own eyes with the amounts of digital trickery, trolling, misinformation and disinformation dominating social media. Heck, even reputable tech companies are selling us solutions to reimagine historical events. Not Leica, though! The venerated camera company officially announced the hotly-anticipated M11-P on Thursday, its first camera to incorporate the Content Credential secure metadata system.
Content Credentials are the result of efforts by the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI), "a group of creators, technologists, journalists, and activists leading the global effort to address digital misinformation and content authenticity," and the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA), "a formal coalition dedicated exclusively to drafting technical standards and specifications as a foundation for universal content provenance." These intertwined industry advocacy groups created Content Credentials system in response to growing abuse and misuse of generative AI systems in creating and spreading misinformation online.
"The Leica M11-P launch will advance the CAI’s goal of empowering photographers everywhere to attach Content Credentials to their photographs at the time of capture," Santiago Lyon, Head of Advocacy and Education at CAI, said in a press statement, "creating a chain of authenticity from camera to cloud and enabling photographers to maintain a degree of control over their art, story and context."
"This is the realization of a vision the CAI and our members first set out four years ago, transforming principles of trust and provenance into consumer-ready technology," he continued.
Content Credentials works by capturing specific metadata about the photograph — the camera used to take it, as well as the location, time and other details about the shot — and locks those in a secure "manifest" that is bundled up with the image itself using a cryptographic key (the process is opt-in for the photog). Those credentials can easily be verified online or on the Leica FOTOS app. Whenever someone subsequently edits that photo, the changes are recorded to an updated manifest, rebundled with the image and updated in the Content Credentials database whenever it is reshared on social media. Users who find these images online can click on the CR icon in the pictures corner to pull up all of this historical manifest information as well, providing a clear chain of providence, presumably, all the way back to the original photographer. The CAI describes Content Credentials as a "nutrition label" for photographs.
The M11-P itself is exactly what you'd expect from a company that's been at the top of the camera market since the middle of the last century. It offers a 60 MP BSI CMOS sensor on a Maestro-III processor with 256 GB of internal storage. The M11-P is now on sale but it's also $9,480 at retail so, freelancers, sorry.