Brazilians May Need ID and Social Security to Surf the Internet

If a bill being voted this Wednesday, November 8, in the Brazilian Senate’s Constitution and Justice Commission passes and ends up becoming law anyone using a Brazilian Internet provider will need to supply their personal data, including ID and Social Security numbers to do the most simple tasks on the Net, like sending email, chatting and even downloading a file. 

The controversial bill presented by senator Eduardo Azeredo, from the PSDB party, calls for a serious tightening on the freedoms people have been used to when navigating on the Internet.

Anyone willing to be connected to the Net, in Brazil, will have, according to the new measure, to provide his/her own full name as well as address, phone number, ID  and CPF numbers. The CPF is a document similar to a Social Security card that Brazilian are required to present for most business transactions.

If approved in the senate committee the bill called Informatics Crimes Law would still have to be voted by the full senate and then by the House of Representatives before being signed by the president and becoming law.

Failure to comply with the law could send Internet providers for a two to four-year stay in jail. Providers would be responsible to guarantee that the information given by users is authentic.

As expected, Net providers and groups worried with privacy matters are adamantly opposed to such a bill, while bankers have been lobbying for it. This is understandable: banks have been the main victims of cyber crimes, which include phishing emails and pharming sites scams.

Providers argue that such a law wouldn’t inhibit crime in the Internet while penalizing all other users. They note that criminals can already be identified through their IPs (Internet protocol) when they get online.

For Jair Scalco, director of Febraban’s (Brazilian Federation of Banks) Cards and Electronic Businesses, any other law will be useless until everyone accessing the Internet is duly identified.

The Abranet (Brazilian Association of Internet Providers) and Brazil’s Internet Steering Committee have sent a letter to senator Azeredo, the bill’s author, commenting on their misgivings.

In the document they contend that the passage of such a measure would make democratization of the Internet much harder and would also encourage providers to migrate overseas where they wouldn’t be bound by this legislation.

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