Digital Brazil - All eyes on RIC

[ Spanish version]

Introduction

Brazil's new biometric ID card is one of the world's most technologically advanced eIDs
(Article coming from the Review (Digital Brazil: December 2011 issue)

On 30 December 2010, one day from the end of his eight-year mandate, President Lula took part in a ceremony that focused firmly on the future. He was the first Brazilian to be given a new, high-tech Brazilian identity card, numbered 001. Over the next nine years, 150 million Brazilians will join him.

Currently, Brazilians have to deal with a confusing array of identity numbers, including the RG (Registro Geral, or general register) number on their current photo ID cards, a social security number, a work number, a health number and a student number. The RIC, or Civil Identity Registry (pictured), can replace all of these with a single ID. The RIC has been hailed as one of the most technologically advanced identity cards in the world. Not only will it give Brazilians a unique, multipurpose identity number based on their fingerprints, it also includes a photo, a signature and a chip with biometric and biographical details.

"This card uses the best technology in the world, adapted to the necessities of Brazil," says Célio Ribeiro, President of ABRID, the country's Association of Digital Identification Technology Companies. "We have a chip, we have a level that can be used on frontier control, we can guarantee citizenship, and it can guarantee transactions in the virtual world."

People will no longer have to pay to legally register their signatures at a local notary or cartório, where documents of all kinds frequently have to be officially recognized and stamped in order to become effective. With the RIC, instead of being registered by state, Brazilians will now be registered with the central federal government.

Another way in which the RIC will cut down on bureaucracy is that a code number will enable citizens to pass through airports and even borders quickly. And it will provide muchneeded safeguards against crime and fraud. "It is an important project for Brazil, and will provide better organization for Brazilian society," says Ophir Cavalcante, President of the OAB, Brazil's lawyers' association.

 

Law enforcement

The RIC will also prove invaluable for law enforcement, especially because Brazil will soon have a national criminal database. "Today, a criminal in Ceará State could go to Rio Grande do Sul and take out a new identity," says Cavalcante. "The states don't communicate. The RIC will help significantly." Three states – Rio de Janeiro, Bahia and the Federal District of Brasília – are taking part in the initial rollout, which will begin later in 2011. According to the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for the RIC, 60,000 cards will be delivered in the initial pilot.

Acre, in the north of the country, is also advanced in its preparations, says Sandro Rodrigues, director of this remote jungle state's Identification Institute. Since 2003, Acre has been working on the laborious process of digitizing the physical records of its inhabitants. Details of 450,000 of the 650,000 inhabitants who hold the current RG identity card have already been entered. He hopes the state will send out the first 15,000 cards at the beginning of next year.

"We decided to begin with prisoners, so that when they go to other states, we can still identify them," Rodrigues adds. Schools and residents of poorer, suburban periferia districts will also be among the initial recipients.