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Rights group says there’s no transparency in face biometrics use by Brazilian government



Human rights activists are concerned that a data-processing agency in Brazil’s federal government is not adequately protecting against anti-transgender bias in the agency’s public facial recognition systems.

Serpro (the Federal Data Processing Service), which is in the process of being privatized, has access to all Brazilian driver licenses. According to a blog post by Privacy International, Serpro created BioValid and Datavalid, face biometric software for government identity authentication.

Coding Rights, a non-governmental organization associated with Privacy International, alleges that Serpro has refused to provide rates of biometric match errors and false positives involving trans — particularly Black trans — license holders.

The group has not charged Serpro with writing discriminatory algorithms. But given Brazil’s troubled record protecting trans people from violence and the technology’s documented demographic blind spots, more transparency on the topic is necessary, according to Coding Rights.

A survey published by the organization indicates that large majorities of the Brazilian trans community believe facial recognition can harm them and threaten their right to privacy.

Privatization also has some worried. The nation’s Ministry of Economy says (scroll down) national security could be threatened by the sale of Serpro. A foreign company could buy the firm, endorsing privacy rights that overly favor industry owners.

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