An app wants to give your screenshots legal value

An app wants to give your screenshots legal value

It was 2016 when the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States and the Brexit referendum in the UK led Oxford Dictionaries experts to choose the expression "post-truth" - post truth - as the word of the year, indicating with the term those situations in which facts matter less than perceptions and emotions about them. The theme of truth in an increasingly interconnected world remains as current today as it was then, and is the basis of the intuition that led Fabio Ugolini and Giuseppe Travasoni to develop TrueScreen, an application for Android and iOS that aims to certify content products with the smartphone giving them probative value in the legal seat. Photos, videos, recordings and screenshots can in fact constitute evidence in very different contexts, ranging from cases of harassment to insurance disputes, but the great ease with which it is now possible to modify this type of content endangers its reliability to eyes of a judge. What TrueScreen does is produce a forensic report: through a proprietary algorithm the characteristics of the file and the context data of its acquisition are certified, such as the IP address and GPS position of the device, ensuring that the multimedia content has not undergone any kind of alteration.

How the application works The TrueScreen screen to certify content on Android. The audio import and recording features have yet to be implemented.

Reached by, Ugolini and Travasoni explain how the idea for the application was born, currently the only one to provide this service: “It all comes from another of our application for managing screenshots . Thinking about how to improve it, we realized the gap represented by the fact of not being able to guarantee the veracity of a content. In the patent process we understood how many applications this algorithm could have and the need arose for an ad-hoc application. The idea is to provide anyone with an accessible tool to make themselves credible ". This accessibility, according to Ugolini, is mainly expressed in three aspects: "the application must be easy to use, cheap and valid all over the world". From the point of view of the interface and user experience, it was decided to focus on a minimal design, in an attempt to make the app very intuitive. TrueScreen has three screens: the main one is the one for content certification, on its sides there are the archive of already certified files and your profile page. Currently, registration can only be done through your Google or Apple account, a solution designed for immediacy and which according to the developers "is not invasive for privacy". In the certification screen, a very important distinction is discovered, that between the contents acquired through the application and those imported into it. What changes? "It is as if two souls were present within the app: a forensic technical consultant and a notary", Ugolini explains, "When you acquire a file from TrueScreen these two figures act simultaneously, producing the forensic report that guarantees the reliability of the content. If you import a file we cannot guarantee that it has not been modified previously, only that it will not be altered from that point on. However, it is an important service, we know of lawyers who physically print the screenshots and go to the notary to have them signed. An unthinkable practice for the future ". The app offers the acquisition of various types of content with prices ranging from a single credit to record your GPS position to the eight needed for 30 seconds of screen recording. These credits can be purchased in packages of 10, 20, 50 or 100 with prices ranging from 25 euros for the first to 200 for the last, but they can also be transferred from one profile to another via a unique user ID. br>
The application is developed with the priority of security, respecting international standards on cybersecurity and in some cases even going beyond: "For example, the application does not work if it detects that the device is connected to a USB cable, because attacking a smartphone connected via cable is less complex than via wi-fi or bluetooth ”, says Ugolini. These standards allow TrueScreen to be potentially usable all over the world, "because sorting only affects when you start managing the test, international guidelines are followed for the acquisition phase." The attention to security has however led to the exclusion of Android devices without Google services, such as those of the Chinese manufacturer Huawei: "Unfortunately from the point of view of security they are far behind the environment of Google", explains Travasoni who is TrueScreen CTO (Chief Technical Officer, ed). In addition to security, particular attention is also paid to privacy: the application mainly acts offline in the certification process, excluding the moment of information exchange with the certifying body that issues the forensic report. “This exchange only involves a unique hash, to which noise is added to ward off possible Man-in-the-Middle attacks. It is about 100 Kb, whatever the size of the file, which does not contain metadata ”, continues Ugolini.

The application made its debut last December and is starting to get initial feedback. While unable to cite specific cases, Ugolini claims that "various testimonials are arriving from the app used in trials for cyberbullying and revenge porn cases or on insurance and administrative issues". If the latter represent the main commercial application of the application, the first cases seem to indicate TrueScreen as a potential tool to defend the weakest subjects, victims of crimes that the latest reports of the Ministry of the Interior indicate as growing. To become one, it will be necessary to combine the application with greater awareness on these issues and collaboration with institutions that will facilitate the obtaining of the necessary credits for certifications even for those who cannot afford them, an aspect on which the creators of the app anticipate us. who are working, even without being able to provide the details. There remains to be addressed the possible reluctance of some categories such as notaries or technical consultants who, "especially in Italy" according to Ugolini, could feel threatened by such an application. "However, I am convinced of the inevitability of these trends: the inability to trust the information we receive, because it is too easy to modify it, and the autonomy of technology", concludes Ugolini, citing the works of the co-founder of Kevin Kelly .

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