From Techno Chops (Jun 6): PHL muses on using facial-recognition technology to combat terrorism
The Department of National Defense (DND), as represented by Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, will be using technology to combat terrorism. Lorenzana said in an interview with a television station that face-recognition software as well as drones can give our troops significant headway in tracking extremists.
The Secretary also said that the troops need to-relearn fighting tactics in urban places, such as the Islamic city of Marawi. Last month saw the first year anniversary since Islamic State-inspired fighters besieged the city, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare Martial Law not just in the city but in the whole Mindanao region.
Lorenzana also stated that extremists themselves are now using technology in their day-to-day operations, even in sending and obtaining money. It will be recalled that even the Department of Finance, as represented by Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, had commented on how the Maute group of extremists has financed its operations.
The said operations are backed up by drug deals, according to Dominguez. Many alleged financiers have in fact been caught in some parts of the National Capital Region. Thus, Lorenzana’s idea of using software would indeed go far to put a stop to those kinds of covert operations.
Facial recognition software is a more powerful version of the method that a computer uses to identify your friends from photos.
The United States, as represented by State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales, has also urged the Philippines to use biometrics and passenger name records (PNR) to track down extremists. He gave illustrative examples of how cops were able to apprehend men with links to Al-Qaeda through their fingerprints. While Identification Cards can be faked, fingerprints and facial scans help validate a person’s identity.
The proposed National Identification System in the Philippines, if enacted into law, will collect biometrics information from the ID holder, including fingerprints, iris scan, and facial image. While a National ID does indeed look like a means to round up suspicious persons, some groups are worried it might violate the right to privacy.
No right to privacy is violated when contact information is taken from a person taking a plane ride. According to Sales, PNR is also an effective tool to track possible terrorists, who create flight patterns. Applying that to the Philippines, the Office of Transport Security must be aware that there is a war on terrorism going on, and persons with deadly intentions may very well be in our midst.