Brazil trials facial recognition with retired public servants

The Brazilian government has announced a facial recognition trial with retired public servants to support the process of periodic verification that the beneficiary is alive in order to continue receiving of benefits.

The trial underpinning the process will be carried out with 10,000 retired federal civil servants and pensioners and the participants will be able to follow the process through a people management mobile app developed for federal government staff. If the pilot is successful, the functionality will be extended to 700,000 people.

Currently, under the process also known as certificate of existence or proof of life, beneficiaries need to physically go to a government office to prove they are still alive to continue to receive their pension or payment, every year, before their birthday.

According to the Ministry of Economy, using the technology will save time and money for the government and make it more convenient for retired personnel and retirees, since the face-to-face appointments will no longer be required.

The Brazilian social security system is trialling facial recognition technology, also to support the proof of life process. The technology is available for citizens who have already registered biometric details with the government for their drivers license or to vote. The project is part of the government’s intentions to enhance digital service delivery.

Last year, a decree signed by Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro outlined the government’s goal of creating a single citizen database that will contain a wide range of personal information about the country’s population of over 200 million people, to be fully shared across departments.

A number of concerns emerged after the decree was signed and a bill was drafted to reverse the decision. “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,” according to André Figueiredo, a congressman who authored the draft legislation.