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Police utilise AI-powered drones in the Philippines

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The Philippine National Police (PNP) said it will use the funds it saved from its body camera project to buy 10 rapidly deployable closed-circuit television (CCTVs) systems with artificial intelligence (AI) features to help maintain the country’s peace and order amid the pandemic.

PNP director for logistics said that the CCTVs would be deployed to major events in the country that need extra security. The PNP has acquired 2,686 body cameras and their associated equipment for PHP288,888,888. The original contract for the body camera project was PHP333,999,894.19, which meant that it saved PHP45.1 million.

PNP said the CCTVs could be programmed with a facial recognition feature that can be used to identify wanted persons and local and international terrorists. They also said this would allow PNP personnel to determine if these individuals are mingling with the crowd and take appropriate action immediately.

The CCTV will tell the command-and-control station that the subject, who is 90-94% like the person being tracked by the police, is in the crowd, the PNP added. They also noted that the system complies with the PNP’s accuracy standard of 90% and above in terms of biometric features.

Moreover, another advantage of these deployable CCTVs, he said, is that they could be set up on the venue itself, which means it does not have to be linked to the PNP main command centre.

Accordingly, this is in line with the PNP’s SMART Policing programme which is seen as a project that will highly benefit the police force and the Filipino public once it is fully completed, with the end goal of further reducing crimes and improving police crime solution efficiency. Smart policing is a combination of intelligent implementation of innovations in policing technology while at the same time implementing other existing strategies such as Intelligence-led Policing, Hotspot Policing, Problem-oriented Policing, Community Policing as well as Sector Policing.

However, entities that use CCTV to monitor public and semi-public spaces must identify its legitimate purpose and consider its impact on the rights and freedoms of data subjects.

The National Privacy Commission (NPC) issued Advisory No. 2020-04 to guide personal information controllers (PICs) and processors (PIPs) that process personal data using CCTV systems. The capture, use, retention, and destruction of video and/or audio footage obtained from CCTVs are forms of personal data processing under the Data Privacy Act. Before installing a CCTV, the purpose/s of processing personal data to be obtained from the system must be determined. Purposes that are allowed include compliance with the law or regulation; security of properties; protection of important interests of individuals; and public order and safety. However, these purposes are overridden by the fundamental rights and freedoms of data subjects.

Therefore, CCTV systems, when used reasonably and appropriately, are tools that support the safety and security of PICs, PIPs, and data subjects. It must implement organisational, technical and security measures, conduct regular reviews on the system, and ensure that its use is bound to specify and legitimate purposes, NPC chief said.

Consequently, with the declaration of a public health emergency in the country due to the COVID-19 contagion, the NPC also said it is imperative upon the government to strike a balance between individual data privacy and public health interests, including the public’s right to know. The agency wishes to emphasise that the Data Privacy Act does not prevent the government from doing its job. It follows that the DPA should not prevent the government, especially public health entities, from processing personal and sensitive personal information when necessary to fulfil their mandates during a public health emergency.

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