Visual fakery

The Economist has a terrific piece about the increasing tendency to manipulate digital images for fraudulent and other purposes. The trend includes some things that I (naive soul that I am) hadn’t realised. For example:

In around one in 75 insurance claims, photos documenting property damage have been fraudulently retouched, says Eugene Nealon of Nealon Affinity Partners, a company based in London that advises insurers. Liz Williams, editor of the Journal of Cell Biology, says her publication rejects around 1% of peer-reviewed scientific papers after discovering that microscope images have been doctored to make results look good.

An interesting arms-race is developing here. Canon and Nikon embed concealed ‘signatures’ in images taken with their cameras, but it turns out that these can be reinstated on doctored images. So it goes on…

Perhaps the safest policy from now on is never to trust a digital image!