(WHTM) — Truth to tell, simple photo fakery can be kind of fun. Tricks like double exposures (“Look! I’m looking over my shoulder while I write a story!) or the forced perspective shot (“Look! I’m holding the Washington Monument in the palm of my hand!”) are easy to set up, easy to shoot, and a source of mild amusement to friends and family.

But what if fake photos are used for fraud? The worry that a photo presented as evidence in, say, an important criminal trial or congressional hearing might be manipulated in some way is now a massive migraine for everyone, from law enforcement to medicine to construction to military to insurance. Heck, to just about anybody these days, especially including those of us in the news media.

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The problem, of course, is that photo fakery has gotten too easy. Any troll can download an innocent image from the internet, pop it into an image manipulation program, then add stuff, delete stuff, change exposure or color balance, turn day to night, and do many more tricks which I won’t try to list because I don’t want this article to be longer than War and Peace. Then the troll can upload it for purposes nefarious.

For professional photographers, such behavior means not only are their copyrighted images being used without their permission-or payment-the manipulated images might damage their personal or professional reputations. So what can they do to protect their images, and themselves?

Well, that brings us to the press release that prompted this article. Earlier this month, Sony announced “in-camera forgery-proof photo technology” for their new high-end camera, the Alpha 7 IV. (Full disclosure-I don’t use any Sony cameras, so I’m not grinding an ax one way or another.)

According to the release, “images are immediately cryptographically signed by the camera processor upon capture. Following this, any pixel modification, tampering, or potential forgery will cancel the image signature, as the image manipulation will be detected by the customer’s own certificate server during the examination.” It goes on to say “Sony’s new forgery-proof signing mode ensures the secure creation and transmission of images based on cryptographic methods, as the fundamental need for certifying unmodified and secure images grows in many applications, across multiple industries.”

The ability to encrypt individual images to make them resistant to forgery is something professional photographers have been begging the camera industry to provide for years. In fact, Canon tried to market something like this in 2010. It was quickly hacked. One hopes the Sony technology will be more tamper-proof. The release doesn’t go into much detail about how the system works, but it does say it’s “subject to receipt of a license to enable Sony’s signing mode” and that it’s primarily aimed at professionals. One hopes it will eventually filter to non-professional photographers as well.

To read the Sony press release, click here: