A state lawmaker wants to prevent the use of doctored digital photos as evidence in criminal trials.
Many police departments are now using digital cameras to collect evidence in criminal investigations. However, one state lawmaker is worried those photos could be manipulated to help incriminate a suspect. State Representative Marlin Schneider (D-Wisconsin Rapids) says digital objects are relatively simple to alter, increasing the risk that something could be entered as evidence after it has been changed.
Legislation from Schneider would require digital videos, photos, or audio to include "watermarks" that prove they have not been altered. The Wisconsin Rapids Democrat says there's no evidence that this has happened yet, but he wants to make sure it never does.
Departments would have to buy special software that embeds the watermarks into digital files. Dennis Hughes with the Wisconsin State Patrol says that could be costly for departments across the state. He estimates a cost of at least $1.1 million for the State Patrol to upgrade its systems.
Hughes says many departments are already struggling to keep up with rapidly changing technology. He thinks the new requirement would just make current equipment obsolete sooner. Hughes believes departments will implement safeguards as they replace existing technology.
The bill is currently being considered by an Assembly committee.