State authorities in Brazil have begun to issue digital identification (ID) based on blockchain technology in a move that aims to boost the security and reliability of data-sharing between public bodies.
The South American nation began the rollout of an upgraded national ID card scheme (‘Carteira de Identidade Nacional – CIN) more than 12 months ago as the government looks to encourage the take-up of digital ID as part of a broader drive to digitise public services.
The Brazilian Federal Revenue Service (Secretaria Especial da Receita Federal do Brasil – RFB) and government-owned IT company Serpro (Serviço Federal de Processamento de Dados – Federal Data Processing Service) have now launched a data-sharing platform based on blockchain technology – the ‘Federal Revenue Service’s Shared Registry’, also named ‘b-Cadastros’ – to underpin digital CIN issuance in three states: Rio de Janeiro, Goiás and Paraná. States, municipalities and public bodies across the rest of the country have a deadline of 6 November to follow suit.
Blockchain is a list of records (‘blocks’) securely linked as an immutable ledger using cryptography. It is a technology increasingly being explored and implemented across public sector organisations globally.
The Serpro-developed solution is to be ‘adopted and operated’ by all civil identification agencies for consultation, registration and change of individual taxpayer registries (Cadastro de Pessoas Físicas – CPFs) and CINs, ‘according to the needs of the process of issuing new identities’, according to Serpro’s blockchain/CIN announcement (Portuguese language).
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Blockchain’s benefits for Brazilians
“Blockchain technology plays a key role in protecting personal data and preventing fraud, providing a more secure digital experience for Brazilian citizens,” said Serpro president Alexandre Amorim, describing the use of the b-Cadastros platform as “a great differential for the security and reliability” of Brazil’s national ID scheme.
“Applications that use blockchain can count on advantages such as the immutability of data, since it is practically impossible to alter or falsify the data recorded in a blockchain network,” Amorim added.
Serpro’s announcement goes on to state that ‘another advantage is decentralisation, as the technology is distributed across multiple machines and nodes in the network, which reduces vulnerability to cyberattacks, making it more difficult for attackers to compromise the security of the system.’
It adds that blockchain ‘also promotes more transparency, as it allows you to track all transactions and activities carried out on the network, increasing users’ trust in the system’.
The b-Cadastros platform is built on Hyperledger Fabric. This is a permissioned blockchain infrastructure, which means it has an access-control layer.
‘Another important evolution of CIN’
“The use of blockchain technology is another important evolution of the CIN project,” said Rogério Mascarenhas, secretary of digital government in Brazil’s Ministry of Management and Innovation in Public Services.
“It brings more consistency in the service provided, traceability, security and independence of the states in this process, in addition to new features that benefit the citizen, such as the registration of the CPF directly at the counter of the Identification Agency [Órgão de Identificação].”
Brazil has 26 states in total, as well as the federal district of capital city Brasilia. Mascarenhas urged all states across the country, which has a population of about 212 million people, to ‘pay attention’ to the 6 November deadline.
“The CIN is an important project for public security, which fights organised crime, but it goes beyond that,” he said. “The CIN enables different areas of government to act in an integrated manner to meet the needs of citizens, facilitating access to services, regularising administrative records, including Brazilian citizens, especially in digital services.”
Upgraded CINs, which began to be issued in July last year, contain a QR Code and ‘automated reading zone’ (‘zona de leitura automatizada’) to enable ‘easy and safe’ verification by public security officials, and all public and private counters.