It was recently announced in the news that in November 2023, Brazil will begin issuing digital IDs for all its citizens using blockchain technology. As one of the first countries to do so, many are wondering why a government would choose to issue digital IDs.
Well, as blockchain supporters, we believe digital IDs are a good thing, but not when utilized by certain entities. Read on to learn more about blockchain technology, digital IDs, and the new development in Brazil.
What is a Digital ID?
Think of all the IDs you have in your purse/wallet right now. You probably thought of your driver’s license, as well as maybe your passport or national ID card. What do all of these have in common?
For one, they are all issued by the government. Secondly, they are all easy to steal and copy information from as they are made of paper or plastic.
A digital ID is a form of ID which is digital only. Meaning it would be able to be accessed with a WIFI network and your individual login information. This information could be accessed by a username and password or a fingerprint.
Because it is not tied to a piece of paper or a booklet of papers, digital IDs cannot be lost or stolen (though they can be hacked or poorly controlled, more on that later), and as such, they are considered to be safer than a regular ID. Plus, when you need to prove your age, a venue could scan a QR code instead of being able to see your name, birthdate, and other personal information—something that could help to curb identity theft. (And stop things like the TV show You from happening).
Digital IDs can be used for several purposes once implemented, such as identification, voting, and even the distribution of government programs. Because they are inherently safer than paper IDs (and because they use blockchain technology), we are a fan of Digital IDs….except for the fact that the government is involved. Which brings us to our next point.
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Digital IDs for Brazil
In Brazil, the government plans to issue a digital ID for all citizens. They are doing so because of the large amount of organized crime within the country. They hope, that with digital IDs, criminals will be less able to hide under false identities, and they hope it will increase the immutability of identity.
Not to mention that Brazil is a massive country, and they hope that a digital ID will help them to better keep track of citizens when it comes to administrative records.
They aren’t the first country to do so, as the Netherlands already has a digital ID system for their residents, as does the Dominican Republic. Argentina has also started looking into its own Digital ID system with hopes to implement it next year.
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Why is Brazil’s Digital ID Bad?
While we are all for citizens maintaining their own form of ID, one of the problems with a digital ID issued by a government is the fact that it is issued by a government. Right now, all those IDs in your wallet are tied to the government that issued them, and if something happens to that government, you are screwed.
Don’t believe us? Just think of the movie The Terminal with Tom Hanks. His country was dissolved, and his ID was suddenly useless. While this may seem far-fetched, many citizens of Venezuela are struggling with this exact issue right now—finding themselves unable to get their passports renewed by the corrupt government, thus leaving them trapped in a collapsing country.
And the same would happen to Brazil if the unthinkable happened, whether or not they have a digital ID wouldn’t stop their issues if the country suffered an economic or political collapse. This may seem unlikely, but remember that the future is uncertain.
Our hope would be that in the future, a form of digital ID could be issued without government oversight. Something open source where the citizen could control their own identity without the necessity of government oversight, but of course, for now, this is a far-off dream.
Will a Digital ID Stop Crime?
Now, back on topic, will the digital ID stop organized crime in Brazil? No.
It will make it harder for criminals to fly under the radar and steal identities, but where there is a will, there is always a way. Criminals will find their way around any system and any invention given enough time.
But just because the digital ID won’t totally stop crime doesn’t mean it isn’t a step in the right direction. Frankly, we find it weird that in the 21st century, we are still carrying around laminated papers as our IDs, and it is time to have something digital that won’t get lost or stolen, we just can’t believe it has taken this long.
Although a digital ID won’t stop crime, it will lower identity theft, meaning it is better for the average citizen. Plus, it might slow organized crime for a couple of months while they figure out a new workaround, and it will help curb election fraud (eventually) as all citizens will vote using their digital ID.
Either way, we are for digital IDs, especially in large countries like Brazil, we just wish they were controlled by a third party rather than being centralized by the government. Because this digital ID has the potential to be spyware, but we will get into that in another article.
Should the USA Have Digital IDs?
We absolutely think the United States should offer a form of digital ID. Not only will it help bring the aging election system up to speed, but we think it would help streamline several of the slow and often taken advantage of social programs in the United States…but again, we wish there would be a way to do it without the government running it.
A third-party solution, such as a company paid to manage America’s digital IDs, could help, but this is still a little too centralized for our liking, especially if the government is still paying this third party. Hopefully, someone will develop the technology to allow individuals around the world to control their own identities…but until that time, we guess we will keep carrying around this laminated paper ID in our wallets.
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