The Brazilian government will be using facial recognition to verify the identities of pensioners in the country. The program specifically concerns retired public services workers, and will begin with a 10,000-person trial phase before expanding to cover 700,000 people if the trial is successful.
The new system is intended to replace the country’s current proof-of-life system, which forces pensioners to go to a physical government office to establish a certificate of existence. Pensioners need to complete the process once a year at some point before their birthday, and do not receive benefit payments until they are able to prove that they are still alive.
The new trial will replace the in-person visits with a mobile app that was developed expressly to make the pension service easier to manage. The Ministry of Economy is hoping that the app will reduce administrative costs and make things simpler for beneficiaries, who will no longer need to make an in-person appointment to collect their benefits.
The trial reflects the Brazilian government’s broader interest in using facial recognition technology to facilitate the delivery of digital services. The country’s social security system is already trialing its own face-based proof of life system for citizens who registered their biometric data in order to vote, or when they received a driver’s license.
President Jair Bolsonaro has also signed a decree to advance the creation of a massive database to store the biometric information of all Brazilian citizens. However, the decree has faced some pushback from legislators who have raised privacy concerns about the proposal.
“The centralization of personal data the government wants to put into practice can make such information very vulnerable and accidentally, or unlawfully, cause the destruction, loss, alteration, disclosure or even unauthorized access to such personal data,” said congressman André Figueiredo.
Brazil is not the first country to use biometrics to identify its pensioners. India recently introduced a new service that will allow pensioners to complete the proof of life process at home, while Argentina has modified its regulations to allow banks to accept facial recognition as a valid form of identification.
November 30, 2020 – by Eric Weiss