Data extracted and kept in gov databases. Are they safe? Not in Brazil.

22 Nov 2017 - São Paulo

While governments “go digital,” some practices remain the same. Registry, identification and identity of citizens are intricated areas, all being digitized whithout the proper discussion with civil society. What can go wrong?

Facebook does have more data about you than you can imagine. Also Google and Apple, with their devices, keeping your location, activity, pictures, voice, gestures and other personal info on their servers. Amazon can extract your buying preferences, besides your physical characteristics and details about your habits and family. What about the data that the government keeps about you? Is it safe? Is it protected against theft?

Depends on the country you live.

In Brazil, all the systems that identify and issue registry to citizen are out of any standard. In between obscure agreements these datasets are flowing from one istitution to another, and this weird flow is reinforced by legislation that encourages interoperability, but doesn’t protect privacy, nor freedom of expression.

So, that is why I took a deeper look in each of the 4 most important citizen registries that the Brazilian government uses to extract data of citizens. It’s bad, really bad.

We are watching a slow movement to add social media into this equation, be that by the interest in the Federal Revenue Agency searching for “money clues” at our Facebook profiles, or by the intense use of Internet platforms as providers of verification on our identities.

It is not necessary to cite Equifax scandals to realize that this is not just about privacy and data security, but about rethinking the entire framework of identification to protect the rights of freedom and equality for everyone.

Zara Rahman just wrote a nice piece about how ostensive identification can be bad for vulnerable communities, and as my last post to this series is going to be about brazilian natives’ data (spoiler alert: being written in partnership with Dr. Danilo Doneda) — I find a lot of similarities in the situations that are described at her article.

Governments must use technology to protect citizen identities. And fast. Below, if you are interested in details, you can access each post about them, published by Privacy International. In each post you can access the pt-br version, published by Coding Rights.