Industry Insights

Combating Fake News with Document Provenance

With all the talk about “fake news” it’s interesting to reflect on the roles of intelligence agencies (government and civil), the similarities and differences between their work and investigative journalism and how a clear, trusted document provenance will help them both in proving the validity of their work products.

Let’s start with the intelligence agencies.  As they seek to protect societal and commercial interests from attack, facing unprecedented challenges in both magnitude 
and complexity of the threat.  The bad guys are increasingly unpredictable, innovative and agile. Intelligence organizations have access to – and must gather and analyse – more raw data than ever from a growing number of disparate sources, in different formats and languages. Governments demand public protection and incident prevention in a climate of increased scrutiny, with the ever-present risk of litigation when things go wrong.

These organisations follow a well-documented workflow – referred to as the Intelligence Cycle – as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1 – Intelligence Cycle

Let’s expand each step and look at how investigative journalism has similarities and differences to the Intelligence Cycle.  This is shown in Table 2.

Table 2 – Comparing Intelligence Analysis with Investigative Journalism

Central to the workflow for both analyst and journalist is document provenance.  Specifically, how the final product (intelligence report or story) is built from composite sources by recording who’s written what, when and why from the source documents to the final story.  The opportunity of applying distributed ledger (aka blockchain) technology to providing this trusted audit trail of changes is captured in Table 3.

Figure 3 – Blockchain & Document Provenance


Although it’s early days, I feel blockchain has a significant role to play in both combatting fake news and compiling trusted intelligence product.

More about Blockchain?

These blog posts talk about different aspects of blockchain for business

  1. Boiling Down Business Blockchain
  2. Blockchain Smart Contracts
  3. Blockchain Privacy Services
  4. Consensus for Business Blockchain
  5. What blockchain IS NOT

and these cover some cross industry use cases:

  1. Supply Chain Management
  2. Provenance
  3. Asset Management
  4. Blockchain for Responsible Business

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