Skip those apps: DND chief sees ‘risks’ in AI imaging tech

Skip those apps: DND chief sees ‘risks’ in AI imaging tech

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:46 AM October 21, 2023

Secretary of National Defense (SND) Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr.

Secretary of National Defense (SND) Gilberto C. Teodoro, Jr. —The official Facebook page of the Philippine Department of National Defense.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. is apparently not a fan of the latest social media craze that uses artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted imaging technology to generate different versions of you, like your student persona in the hairstyles and fashions of the 1990s.

Where netizens see an amusing nostalgia trip, the Cabinet official sees “privacy and security risks.”


In a recent memo to the various agencies under the Department of National Defense (DND), including the different branches of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Teodoro ordered their personnel to refrain from using such apps.


“The online trending digital application that uses AI which requires its users to submit at least 10 photos to generate an enhanced portrait, poses significant privacy and security risks,” according to the memo he issued on Oct. 14.

“This application compiles its users’ data and creates a digital person that mimics how a real individual speaks and moves,” he added.

Must be ‘aligned’

“All DND and AFP personnel are directed to refrain from using Al photo generator applications, and practice vigilance in sharing information online,” Teodoro said. “Ensure that your actions are aligned to the department’s values and are in adherence to existing policies.”

The memo was sent to the heads of the various civilian offices attached to the DND—like the Office of Civil Defense, Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, National Defense College of the Philippines, and the Government Arsenal—and to the chief of staff of the AFP.

READ: Teodoro asks DND staff to avoid use of AI photo-enhancing apps

While harmless and even amusing on the surface, Teodoro said, these AI-powered applications could be maliciously used to create fake profiles that can lead to identity theft, social engineering, phishing attacks and other malicious activities.


Shared concern

The memo did not specify any app, but at least one—Epik AI Photo Editor—has been making heads turn, as it were, among Filipinos for it can generate 1990s-themed portraits of the user.

The defense chief, however, was not the first in government to warn about the trending technology.

On Oct. 4, the National Privacy Commission issued a statement also asking the public to exercise caution in the use of AI-powered apps.

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“While the AI Yearbook trend itself may seem harmless, it is essential for individuals using the application to be cautious about the privacy implications it may pose,” the commission then said. “We encourage responsible data handling and privacy protection in all online activities.”

TAGS: artificial intelligence, Defense, DND, Security, Teodoro

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