The Need for Open-Source Blockchain-Based Police Bodycams

Transparency must be treated as a fundamental pillar of our justice system.

Jordan Mack
The Startup
Published in
3 min readDec 19, 2019

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Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

Police bodycams are an essential piece of equipment for modern law enforcement. The evidence contained on these cameras can be the difference between someone spending the rest of their life in jail or walking out of the courtroom a free man. The authenticity of bodycam videos must be protected to the highest possible degree.

The importance of the videos is unquestionable, but is the threat of video alteration real? Very.

Researchers have found that bodycam videos are vulnerable to undetectable alteration, and malware has been found on shipped bodycams. Police departments have also been caught editing bodycam videos to skew the narrative in their favour.

This isn’t remote speculation, it’s already a serious problem.

Photo by Michael Geiger on Unsplash

To combat the problem, some bodycam manufacturers are teaming up with camera component manufacturers to develop more advanced digital fingerprinting technology. This works by embedding markers directly into the video feed as it comes out of the camera.

The markers to the video are undetectable by the human eye, but make it easier to detect video forgery. Only the camera manufacturer knows the algorithms used to create the markers. If you don’t have the algorithms, changing the video without detection becomes much more difficult.

Herein lies the problem. If you know the algorithms you can defeat the security. The algorithms could be stolen by hackers or bad actors. A government could demand the algorithms. It’s a trust-based system with a single point of failure.

History has shown that trust-based systems can and have been repeatedly defeated. There was no alternative in the past, but this changed in 2009 with the advent of Bitcoin. A blockchain can be used to ensure that data isn’t changed or deleted. Unlike other systems, a blockchain operates completely transparently, without trust.

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Jordan Mack
The Startup

Blockchain developer. ♥ Rust. Founder of RigidBit blockchain. Cryptocurrency since 2011. Health nut. Libertarian. Lifelong learner. https://www.jordanmack.info