The Starling Lab for Data Integrity prototypes tools and principles to bring historians, legal experts and journalists into the new era of Web3.

A new methodology to restore trust in digital media

The Starling Lab is an academic research lab innovating with the latest cryptographic methods and decentralized web protocols to meet the technical and ethical challenges of establishing trust in our most sensitive digital records.

Starling uses open-source tools, best practices, and case studies to securely capture, store and verify digital content. With applications across news media, historical preservation and legal accountability, the potential use cases for the Starling Framework are numerous. 



The Starling Lab Journalism Fellowship is harnessing the power of cutting-edge authentication technology and open source tools to start a new conversation between journalists and technologists.

History (Coming Soon)

Law (Coming Soon)

Our Framework: Capture, Store & Verify

As Web3 takes root, we have a unique opportunity to allow the stewards of our most sensitive records to define the next generation of internet protocols and applications.

New technologies such as blockchains, NFTs, DAOs, and cryptographic proofs offer a dizzying array of innovations that hold the promise and peril to transform the way we establish the provenance and integrity of information.


To cut through the buzz and hype, we’ve built a collaborative and impact-oriented lab that brings academics, expert practitioners, and industry affiliates together to research how these technologies function in the real world. Our work is grounded in a new framework that provides both experts and novices an intuitive and comprehensive guide to their investigations: 


Starling prototypes mobile apps and camera firmware to authenticate digital content and metadata at the point of capture.


Starling researches how advanced cryptography and decentralized networks can securely distribute and govern content over time.


Starling experiments with immutable ledgers to register digital content, enabling experts to audit, or verify, the provenance and authenticity of that content.

Case Study: 78 Days

Starling and Reuters documented the 78 day Presidential transition between Joe Biden and Donald Trump using new decentralized authentication technologies.

Co-Founders of The Starling Lab

The Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) at Stanford innovates by conducting fundamental and applied research to develop physical technologies, hardware and software systems, and information technologies. Throughout its 125-year history, EE at Stanford has supported innovation and entrepreneurship that helped build Silicon Valley, from the invention of microprocessors to public-key cryptography to wireless technologies. EE’s faculty and students continue to advance the state-of-the-art, define new directions for electrical engineering, and address critical societal challenges. 

USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education develops empathy, understanding and respect through testimony, using its Visual History Archive of more than 55,000 video testimonies, academic programs and partnerships across USC and 170 universities. USC Shoah Foundation’s award-winning, interactive IWitness education program, research and materials are accessed in museums and universities, cited by government leaders and NGOs, and taught in classrooms around the world. Now in its third decade, USC Shoah Foundation reaches millions of people on six continents from its home at the University of Southern California. 

Starling Fellowship Projects

“The DJ and the War Crimes”

Rolling Stone

"Documenting Stockton’s Homeless"

Bay City News

"Police Seize on COVID-19 Tech to Expand Global Surveillance"

Associated Press

Starling Lab In The News

"Documenting War in Ukraine: Trustless Evidence"

Jonathan Dotan/Davos Promenade

"In Ukraine, war crimes go on-chain"


"Innovative uses of data"

CBC's Spark with Nora Young (Benedict Lau and Adam Rose interview begins at 27:17)

"Towards supporting criminal accountability"

Basile Simon/Nieman Lab

"The Future of Photography and Post Lens Photography"

National Geographic Photography (Twitter Spaces with Aaron Huey)

"New ZK Use Cases with Dan Boneh"

Zero Knowledge Podcast

"A crypto-based dossier could help prove Russia committed war crimes"


"Trustless Evidence: Web 3 Is Helping Document War Crimes in Ukraine"

Jonathan Dotan/CoinDesk

“USC and Stanford Launch Starling Lab to Protect Human Rights with Decentralization”


"Social Media's Selective Historical Memory is a Human Rights Issue"

Jonathan Dotan/The Independent

"The Dangerous Rise of Alternative Facts"

Jonathan Dotan & Cheryl Phillips

"Inside Starling Lab, a moonshot project to preserve the world's most important information"


"How cryptography and Web3 can help restore trust in digital media"

Stanford Engineering

"Information, Theory, Power and Competition"

Stanford Research Talks

"Restoring Trust in our Digital Age with Compression"

Stanford Research Talks

"The Crucial Role of Data Compression"

Stanford Engineering

Privacy Preference Center