Former Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula was the first person to be issued with one of Brazil’s new biometric ID cards, shortly before he vacated his post at the start of 2011. Over the next decade, 150 million Brazilian citizens will join him as one of the world’s most ambitious ID projects takes shape.
The Registro de Identidade Civil (RIC or Civil Identity Registry) card gives Brazilians a unique, multipurpose identity number based on their fingerprints and also includes a photo, signature and a chip containing biometric and biographical details. The RIC is replacing a number of different identity numbers (including Registro Geral (General Register), social security, work, health and student numbers) issued at both state and national level, to provide a single, standardised and nationwide system of identification.
As my colleague Amy Gant recently discussed, the lack of a single, universally-held form of identification threatens to play havoc with the upcoming US elections, as authorities will struggle to verify the identity of those voting. Brazil will have no such problems once the RIC card roll-out is complete. In addition, card holders will benefit from smoother transit both within Brazil and at its national borders, whilst also gaining better protection against fraud and other crimes.
Brazil is a fast-moving-market for growth. Protecting the identities of its hundreds of millions of citizens is no small task, but it is one which is essential if the country is truly to become one of the world’s economic and cultural superpowers.