Serelay: Start taking verifiable, trustable photos with your mobile phone today

Serelay: Start taking verifiable, trustable photos with your mobile phone today



Our brain can process visual images in as little as 13 milliseconds. A glance is all it takes. Based on the intake, our brain starts to process the information. This outstanding ability is part of the problem: Our way of processing images means that manipulated visuals have a big impact. We see something, we notice it. It is easy to do damage, but difficult to correct the impression we got.

A need for better verifiable visual content

And this, particularly, is why there is such a strong need to have better tools to verify visual content. The rise of manipulated content has many reasons. Two are most important: Firstly, there are tools enabling almost undetectable visual manipulation. Many of these tools have been developed for photo and video artists, from advertising to film making in Hollywood. But these advanced technologies can be used to create misinformation, too.

Secondly, the standards for uploading visual content are still low. Everyone with a mobile phone can take a screenshot, upload it to a social media platform and claim whatever they like. False rumours combined with emotion can have similar effects as propaganda. Many content management platforms allow the uploading of photos or videos without demanding data as to the copyright of the material or other information. This missing info makes it even harder for fact-checkers to determine the correctness of the material.  

A smart approach towards verifiable visuals

This is where Serelay,  a startup from the UK, comes in: The company offers a way to enable the creation of verifiable photos that is effective and can be used right away. The approach does not affect the user’s privacy. All you have to do is to download the Serelay app. Located in Oxford, the company has created a full circle solution to enable verifiable information. The process works with both photos and videos.

Data points added to a photo at the moment of capture

But how does this work? Serelay has pioneered a process described as “trusted media capture”.  The software records between 300 and 500 data points to an image at the moment when it is captured. These data points are then linked to the media item. This added information is compressed, to be less than 15kb per capture. This is important, given the number of pictures taken. With 15kb there is minimal mobile bandwidth needed. The battery of a mobile device is not considerably drained. 

While the technology is complex, using it is very simple. As a user download and install the Serelay apps and then start taking photos with highly extended verification options.

And another, important aspect: While the additional data can be used to verify the photo, there is no information stored about the user. Serelay provides higher transparency for the media item, but without exposing the photo creator in unwanted ways.

Enabling verification in under 30 seconds

Taking photos is one side of the coin, being able to verify such material is the other: Serelay says that any photo or video captured can be queried for authenticity in under 30 seconds, by running it through software. The analysis can spot whether even one pixel or video frame has changed.

Screenshot of Serelay software features

The Serelay software enables to add and later check multiple data points of a photo for verification. This includes 3D detection (to ensure the photo is not just a screenshot), the location and the time the image was taken. Source: Serelay.

Example: Where was the photo taken?

The Serelay software can determine, too, whether the photo was taken outside (“in a valid 3D event”). This can help to determine that the image is not just a screenshot taken on a laptop. The software further validates time and location, using real-time third-party datasets. An algorithm developed by Serelay will further check for anomalies. The verification software can be accessed through a user interface. For media organisations and others having to verify many such visuals, there is an option to automate the process through APIs. The Serelay documentation can be found here.

Interview with the Founder

We talked to Roy Azoulay, founder and executive director of Serelay

Roy Azoulay, Serelay

Q: What is your background?

Roy Azoulay: “I come from a physics and computer science background, I spent the start of my career as a software engineer and team leader. I then completed an MBA at the University of Oxford and following this ended up setting up and running a successful startup incubator for the university.”

Q: Can you describe what Serelay offers?

“Serelay believes that photos and videos should be captured in a way that is inherently verifiable. Serelay captured photos and videos can be queried for the authenticity of content, time and location, quickly conclusively and at scale.”

Q: How did you get to this point in development with Serelay? How did it evolve?

“We developed our initial concept with funding from Google through it’s Digital News Initiative Fund and with support from the European Space Agency. Then, after almost a year of testing and tightening so that the technology could comply with the toughest data protection regulations and the highest journalistic standards in the world, we deployed our solution with one of the world’s most reputable news media organisations, the newspaper The Guardian in the UK. This was a landmark collaboration. In our original design, Serelay compliant photos needed to be captured either by a Serelay camera app, or our SDK embedded in a third-party app with camera functionality. We have recently launched a new architecture called ‘React’ which enables the creation of Serelay-compliant photos, using a mobile device’s stock camera app.”

Q: How important is the use of blockchain?

“We do not use blockchain at the moment as we are happy to collaborate with partners in the space. While we can certainly see the value of recording origin metadata on an immutable ledger, a blockchain implementation also introduces complexity – for example, we currently give users the option to delete all of their photos’ metadata from our database in just a few clicks, in a different scenario –  we may retroactively revoke the veracity credentials of a certain phone model or operating system version where a security vulnerability is uncovered. These matters require a carefully designed blockchain implementation, possibly with different implementation architectures for different use cases. We see ourselves as a technology partner for such implementations, it is unlikely we will do one in-house.”

Q: What are the next steps to establish this technology for wider use? Are you already working with media or other organisations?

“I mentioned our work with The Guardian. We will also unveil a collaboration with a global software giant in March 2021.”

Q: What is your take on the future of trustable content?

“I believe it is in the metadata. A common language to communicate content authenticity and the capability to immutably embed it in a media file can have far-reaching effects. The Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI)  led by Adobe is doing just that.” (Editors note: See info about the CAI below.)

Q: What is the next step for Serelay?

“Our next step will be to add immutable origin metadata, compliant with the emerging CAI standard, to our existing product line.”

What are the options to use Serelay?

“Serelay offers two free apps which add verification data to photos taken with mobile phones, for Android and Apple phones. They differ in terms of integration.”

Thank You for the interview.

Download options: 

  • Serelay Idem enables capturing verifiable photos and videos, through Serelay’s own camera app. To install the app there is no registration needed, to ensure that the privacy of the user is kept. For verification, the app will rely on nearby Wifi signals and other data points. Download:
  • Serelay React does the same, but can directly use the stock camera of the device. Users install the app once and every photo/video they snap on their stock camera is ‘synched’ by React for content, time and location verifiability. How it works is described on the Download page.

Available SDKs enable a further extension of the functionalities to third party apps. Using the Idem SDK companies can add in-app Trusted Media Capture™. The React SDK enables even deeper integration to any photo or video taken with the camera on the device, so there is no need for the user to firstly open the Serelay photo app.

Info: What is the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI)?

The initiative was started in 2019 by Adobe, The New York Times Company and Twitter.  By now, several additional companies have joined the group. The goal is to create an accepted standard of how to enable trustable content. The initiative identified detection, education and better ways for attribution as key goals towards better handling of content.
Quote from the website: “The Content Authenticity Initiative is building a system to provide provenance and history for digital media, giving creators a tool to claim authorship and empowering consumers to evaluate whether what they are seeing is trustworthy.” Link

More information:

MIT News: In the blink of an eye

Forbes:  “Fake-News Makers, Beware: This Firm Claims It Can Oust A Photo With One Fake Pixel”

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Correction note: An earlier version of the article described Roy Azoulay as “founder and CEO”. This has been corrected, he is the “founder and executive director” of the company. 

The initiative was started in 2019 by Adobe, The New York Times Company and Twitter By now, several additional companies have joined the group. The goal is to create an accepted standard of how to enable trustable content. The initiative identified detection, education and better ways for attribution as key goals towards better handling of content.
Quote from the website: “The Content Authenticity Initiative is building a system to provide provenance and history for digital media, giving creators a tool to claim authorship and empowering consumers to evaluate whether what they are seeing is trustworthy.” Link

More information:

MIT News: In the blink of an eye

Forbes:  “Fake-News Makers, Beware: This Firm Claims It Can Oust A Photo With One Fake Pixel”

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Correction note: An earlier version of the article described Roy Azoulay as “founder and CEO”. This has been corrected, he is the “founder and executive director” of the company. 



(Via Worldline, press release )

Madrid, 16 February, 2021 – Worldline [Euronext: WLN], the European market leader in payment and transaction services, will lead the “TruBlo” (Trusted Blockchain) project in the context of the European Commission’s Next Generation Internet initiative, a project that is dedicated to foster a vibrant Open Internet movement that links research, policy, and society for the benefit of society.

The TruBlo project aims to nurture and facilitate research on blockchain technology which will lead to more reliable blockchain-based solutions and applications, that will contribute to ensuring the exchange of trustworthy and reliable content on social networks and media. TruBlo will last three years and each of the projects that it will support if they reach completion, will last a maximum of 15 months.

Three open calls for proposals will be launched as part of the TruBlo project. The first opened on 18 January 2021 and will close on 19 March (link to apply). Target participants are researchers, innovators and developers either as natural person(s) or from academia as well as from high tech companies, to develop research or pilot projects focusing on the following usage scenarios:

  • Trust and reputation models on blockchains. This focus area targets innovative applications, technologies, technical approaches and methodologies that increase the levels of trust in blockchain-based information exchange, with emphasis on user-generated content on the Internet and social media, considering also data from IoT infrastructures.
  • Proof-of-validity and proof-of-location. This focus area is on innovative mechanisms to increase transparency and trustworthiness of user-generated genuine content. The users, as being part of a blockchain, can apply additional verification mechanisms to increase transparency, validity and a high level of trustworthiness, such as Proof- of-Location and Proof-of Validity.
  • It is estimated that up to 450 proposals will be assessed in three calls for proposals, of which 45 will be partially financed and 9 carried through to completion.

Toni Paradell, R&D manager at Worldline Iberia & Group coordinator for the TruBlo project, said:“Generating trust in technologies is key to driving the new digital society, and there is no doubt that the TruBlo project will result in researchers, academics and businesses developing new blockchain solutions to ensure the exchange of reliable content on social networks and in the media. The 9 projects that are implemented will be key to creating trust models that power the exchange of content generated by individuals from any device. This is fundamental if we are to make the technologies part of our lives and increase our ability to drive an agile, effective and secure digital transformation environment”.

For more information about TruBlo, visit the project website at:

ABOUT Worldline

Worldline [Euronext: WLN] is the European leader in the payments and transactional services industry and #4 player worldwide. With its global reach and its commitment to innovation, Worldline is the technology partner of choice for merchants, banks and third-party acquirers as well as public transport operators, government agencies and industrial companies in all sectors. Powered by over 20,000 employees in more than 50 countries, Worldline provides its clients with sustainable, trusted and secure solutions across the payment value chain, fostering their business growth wherever they are. Services offered by Worldline in the areas of Merchant Services; Terminals, Solutions & Services; Financial Services and Mobility & e-Transactional Services include domestic and cross-border commercial acquiring, both in-store and online, highly-secure payment transaction processing, a broad portfolio of payment terminals as well as e-ticketing and digital services in the industrial environment. In 2019 Worldline generated a proforma revenue of 5.3 billion euros.


The TruBlo project is implemented by a consortium of six European partners with different profiles and capacities. The consortium is composed of the Technological University of Athens, experts in blockchain technology; ATC, a company specialized in the development of technologies for detecting and fighting fake news; Deustche Welle, the German public international broadcasting company, delivering their services in 30 languages; F6S, the world’s largest startup and SME community; and ALASTRIA, a Spanish provider of Blockchain infrastructure. The TruBlo project is co-financed by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (contract No. 957228).

TruBlo Newsletter #3

TruBlo Newsletter #3

TruBlo 1st Open Call – join until March 19, 2021.

Up to 175.000 Euro for innovative ideas. Apply here


Trust, Content, Blockchain, Next Generation Internet.

Blockchain for business: Why is it not taking off?

The value of Bitcoin is rising. But the hype there has so far not helped with business solutions using blockchain. Why is development in this area so slow? 

A report from MIT Sloan says:

“The biggest challenge to companies creating blockchain apps isn’t the technology — it’s successfully collaborating with ecosystem partners”. 

International container shipping is an example: If implemented, containers could one day pass through customs faster. But this will only happen once many shipping compannies and port authorities adopt the technology. 

Early blockchain projects for business are in a catch-22 situation: They need a network to be valuable. 

For the study researchers studied over a dozen live blockchain applications including TradeLens, the IBM Food Trust, the Grass Roots Farmer Cooperative, We.Trade, KoreConX, MediLedger, Santander (bond issuance and settlement), SmartResume, WineChain, ANSAcheck, Rapid Medical Parts (3D printing of parts to convert sleep apnea machines to hospital-grade respirators), Stellar (payments platform), and Xbox royalty payments (compensating content creators).

So, everyone is waiting for the first big success to open the gates. 

Key takeaway: Should you plan a blockchain project consider how it could be picked up fast by many users or many members of one particular group. LINK

A way to timestamp documents

Wordproof offers a way to add verification options to online articles, through “timestamps”. Using a hash value which is then stored in a blockchain this creates a “birth certificate” for content. The company offers a module which can be added to WordPress for this purpose. For starters, there is a free plan. Plus, there is a video showing how timestamps work. Video

Clubhouse would like to access your contacts

“When you join the fast-growing, invite-only social media app Clubhouse — lucky you! — one of the first things the app will ask you to do is grant it access to your iPhone’s contacts. A finger icon points to the “OK” button, which is also in a bolder font and more enticing than the adjacent “Don’t Allow” option. You don’t have to do it, but if you don’t, you lose the ability to invite anyone else to Clubhouse.”

This sounds like the next privacy and what is surprising is that it starts the way other such issues started: By an eagerness to gather data – without making it clear for what reason. Why would my doctor want to join Clubhouse? Let him decide. Why is this strategey of collecting all those names a higher priority than a rock-solid user experience? LINK

Facebook reports rise in content takedowns

In the last quarter of 2020 Facebook took down 6,3 million posts to enforce against online bullying and harrassement. The number has rissen from 3,5 million takedowns in the third quarter of 2020. LINK

12 ways to build trust for tech companies

An article published on Forbes lists up 12 ways to gain trust. Among them: Transparency, showing that privacy is important by example and “privacy by design”. Blockchain is listed as the enabling technology. LINK

In 2020 consumers spent $13 billion on non-game subscriptions, up from $9,7

The market for paid content, in various forms, is growing. In the past it was very difficult to make money this way, but this has changed. Figures reported by Sensor Tower say spending has increased by 34% in one year. if LINK

Fifty million content creators

“There are currently over 50 million creators on Youtube, Instagram, Twitch, TikTok, and other social media platforms. Two million of them are full-time, and they earn six-figure salaries by creating content daily or weekly. And that massive distributed content creation engine means that about 90% of the video, audio, photo, and text-based content consumed today by Gen Z is created by individuals, not corporations.”

Via Forbes. This is a from mid-2020, but notable.

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TruBlo Newsletter #1

TruBlo Newsletter #1

Let us know about topics you are interested in. You can reach us anytime at

TruBlo Open Call # 1 started

The objective of our Open Call #1 is to invite academic teams, researchers, SMEs and startups to define and implement small scale research projects on two topics:
  • Trust and reputation models on blockchains
  • Proof-of-validity and proof-of-location of content
Topic one targets innovative applications, demonstrators and technical approaches which increase the level of trust in user-generated content. Topic two is about new mechanisms towards transparency and trustworthiness of the content. The call is open until March 19, 2021, at 17:00 CET. After that we proceed in two phases: For phase 1, a total of ten projects will be selected to conceptualize a research project for one of the two focus topics. There is nine months time for this work. Then, in the next phase, two projects from the original ten will be retained based on their quality. These two will get another six months (and additional funding) to elaborate on their concepts. The total funding available is 950.000 Euro. A note on that: The maximum amount of funding each beneficiary may receive during the TruBlo open calls is subject to the legal status of the applicant. Documents describing the details can be downloaded on the TruBlo website. If you want to participate and have questions please use to get in touch. Also, if you know individuals or teams who would be interested in participating please pass on this information.


EDMO: United against disinformation

TruBlo cooperates with the European Digital Media Observatory (EDMO). EDMO started its activities on 1 June 2020. The organisation will serve as a hub for fact-checkers, academics and other relevant stakeholders to collaborate with each other and actively link with media organisations, media literacy experts, and provide support to policymakers. LINK

Google to open a center against harmful online content in Dublin

A new “Google Safety Engineering Center” will be located at the site of the Google European headquarters.  It is the first team focusing on this issue in the world for Google. Europe, according to a Reuters news report, has taken the lead in developing new rules for digital platforms. One key demand is that digital platforms take more responsibility to remove harmful content. LINK

Twitter starts Birdwatch, a community-based approach to tackle misinformation

The idea is to let users flag tweets with misleading information. The new offering is currently in a pilot in the US. You can follow the project, it has its own Twitter account LINK

Twitter: Could the next Twitter be decentralised?

Twitter, again. A group of technology experts has published a review of various available technologies which could enable decentralised social networks. This a step forward for the so-called “Bluesky” project, which was initiated by Twitter last year. Bluesky is still in the very early stages, currently, the company searches for a team leader. The work has the support of Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey though. In tweets, he stated the hope that decentralised technologies solve some of today’s communication challenges. Backstory: In late 2019 Twitter announced to fund a small group of experts to explore whether a social network could use decentralised technology. Now a report is available. The paper is an interesting read, providing an overview of what technologies could be used. The report discusses how to support key features of a social network, such as discoverability, moderation and privacy. It further covers how such new platforms could make money. The technologies listed include ActivityPub (in use at Mastodon), Solid (initiated by Tim Berners-Lee) and other approaches. Download the report here: LINK

Video: The subtle aspects of how we form trust

What is this thing called trust? Can we define it? In order to create new technology, we should go deeper here. Rachel Botsman is a leading expert on the topic. She is the author of a book called “Who can you trust?”. Our link leads you to a public talk she gave at the DLD conference: “The currency of trust”. LINK
What We Know About Twitter Project “Bluesky”, so far

What We Know About Twitter Project “Bluesky”, so far

Key points about Bluesky: As of January 2021 the project has not officially started, nor does it have a dedicated project manager or a team. But based on initiative by Twitter a group of experts investigated what it would mean for Twitter to be decentralised. The findings were published in a report on January 21, 2021.

In this brief article we collected all currently known information about the – potential – project. Further we look at key findings of a report published by a group of experts, initiated by Twitter.

Chronology: On December 19, 2019 Jack Dorsey anounced in a tweet that a small team of five experts would be funded to explore a decentralised standard for social media in general. In other words: Twitter started an exploration how the architecture of social media in general could be changed. Dorsey said that Twitter could “ultimately” become a client of the standard. After this though there was more or less silence about Bluesky. 

Update January 2021

Bluesky was mentioned again after quite dramatic events, when Twitter indefinetly blocked the popular account of Ex-US president Donald Trump. In a threat discussing the decision Dorsey mentioned his hope that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin be the basis for new, decentralised networks and new models for privacy, moderation and monetisation.

What the experts found 

A week later an open report got published, based on the findings of a group of experts. The report has 59 pages and provides an overview about existing protocols and applications. At the core it aims to describe the pro’s and con’s of technologies which are already available.

To that end existing applications like Aether, Diaspora and Mastodon and others are discussed. In a dedicated called “Topics” the examination goes into more detail which components could help to create the next generation of social networks. Here aspects such as data, discovery, identity, moderation and business models are discussed.

Link to download the report via

To provide an example of the content, here is what the authors say about the options to handle privacy using the various components: A big challenge for the shift from todays centralised networks to the future would be monetisation. The report looks at three layers applicable for business models: The application level, provider level and protocol level. 

  • Charging on the application level is what is done mostly in todays centralised social offerings and, in theory, this could be done for decentralised platforms too.  This would include advertising or – in reverse – charging a fee from users who want to get an ad-free experience. Another way to monetise would be charges for promoted tweets, charging for custom curation or moderation. In addition a platform could receive a cut of monetised services offered by third parties. 
  • Next comes the provider level. Here charging a commission from applications would be an option. Further members could be charged a fee or for premium features like storage. 
  • As a third option the document discusses something new: How to to create business models at the protocol level, by utilising tokens based on an existing or newly created cryptocurrency. 

Brave Browser as an example

As an example the authors talk about the Brave Browser. This alternative browser, created by people who formerly worked on the Firefox browser, uses “Basic Attention Tokens” (BAT) as a currency. An ad must be paid in BAT, for placement. Users of the Brave browser can earn BAT, by looking at ads. They can later donate the BAT to publishers of their choice. 

Instead of a newly created currency it would be possible to use existing cryptocurrencies, too.


It is exciting to see a major platform rethink how it could re-invent itself for a decentralised future. However, project Bluesky is in very early stages. What the building blocks for decentralised platforms are evolving there is no killer-application at the moment and the market for alternative offerings to the main social networks is quite fragmented. 

Latest status of project Bluesky, according to a tweet by Jack Dorsey, January 2021


Adi Robertson: “Twitter’s decentralized social network project takes a baby step forward”, The Verge, January 21, 2020.

Jay Graber and contributors: Ecosystem Review (PDF), January 2021

Brave (web browser), Wikipedia entry

Tim Berners Lee’s startup Inrupt releases Solid privacy platform for enterprise

Tim Berners Lee’s startup Inrupt releases Solid privacy platform for enterprise

“Changing the way people connect with their data changes everything”, this is the opening statement on on the homepage of Inrupt, a startup founded by web inventor Tim Berners Lee. Three years after being founded Inrupt introduced a new platform for enterprise platforms, enabling development of offerings with a high level of privacy and control.

The new offering is an extension of Solid, “a technology for organizing data, applications, and identities on the web. Solid enables richer choices for people, organizations and app developers by building on existing web standards.” The software is open source and aims to offer standards how user data is handled, with more transparency and – ultimately – trust. 

Users in control of their data

A key concept of Solid is that data of a user is stored in a secure Personal Online Data Store (PODS). The concept is still in early stages, currently overwhelmed by financial interests and many users simply accepting data tracking. What many hope is that initiatives and new offerings might lead to a threshold where user privacy will become the standard.

One step in that direction is the newly released enterprise software from Inrupt. It enables developers to build applications based on Solid. To provide an example: Inrupt currently works with the National Health Care Service in the United Kingdom. Once implemented, users of the NHS will be able to decide who has access to health data and records, from family to doctors to an insurance company. The key point is that the exchange is transparent and controllable for both sides, specifically the user.

Ideally this much better controlled and transparent exchange of data will open the path to fully trustable platforms.


NHS data: Can web creator Sir tim Berners-Lee fix it?, BBC (November 9, 2020)

Photo by Jason Richard on Unsplash