Argentina’s National ID Cards to Store Sensitive Data

EspañolArgentineans will have to renew their national identity card (DNI) for the third time in five years. Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said on Friday that the new electronic ID card will feature a chip storing citizens’ medical and public transportation history, along with social security information. The upgrade has many concerned about an encroachment on privacy.

Randazzo explained that the decision to renew millions of Argentineans’ DNI was made after a deal with the Royal Mint of Spain, which brings several technological improvements and centralizes public and private data. With this upgrade, the minister explained, Argentineans will possess a sole electronic document, sparing them paperwork and multiple IDs.

“[The new DNI] will become a card that not only identifies people as before, but that also interacts with public and private services, like the more developed countries in this area,” he said.

The DNI’s chip will contain an individual’s National Social Security Administration (ANSES) data, medical history, and even public transportation trips made using SUBE, a government-issued card for subsidized fares.

In terms of security, Randazzo claims that theft or loss of ID will cease to be such a huge problem, since the information inside the chip is encrypted. The document can also be blocked if the person files a complaint. The data, far from lost, will reload once the government reissues the document.

This will result in a better quality of life for all Argentineans.

The official website of the new mandatory ID card further explains why the government chose to abandon the current system in exchange for a smart card that must be renewed every 15 years. In addition to the aforementioned advantages, the new DNI card “incorporates information technology into the production stage: built-in biographical data, fingerprints arranged in computerized databases, and fingerprint verification using modern tools.”

The deadline for Argentineans to upgrade their ID is set for January 1 2015, upon which time the hand-written DNI will no longer be valid.

The printing industrial director of the Royal Mint of Spain, Carlos Lago Iglesias, congratulated the Argentinean minister for “the extraordinary work done by the Ministry of Interior and Transportation in modernizing the identification of citizens of Argentina.”

The announcement quickly spurred controversy on social media. Critics point out that this is now the second time the federal government implements a drastic change to the national ID card, while others are concerned with excessive state intrusion into individual privacy.

The introduction of the new DNI comes amid the bribery scandal and pending trial of Argentinean Vice President Amado Boudou, as well the the controversial appointment of philosopher Richard Forster as secretary of National Thought.

Seems to me, with this new chip from Randazzo, Forster will have a much easier time coordinating our thoughts…

Behind the Curtain on the New National ID Card

According to Beatriz Busaniche of Vía Libre Foundation, which strives to keep the public updated on new technologies, the support for the new DNI comes from misguided gadget fetishism. “Technology is presented as a benefit in itself, but in reality these devices function as control and monitoring mechanisms; they collide with rights guaranteed in our Constitution. [Proponents] too readily given them up in exchange for a new technological toy,” the expert explained on Radio Palermo.

Busaniche questioned minister Randazzo’s claims that information stored in the cards would be inaccessible in case of theft or loss. “For example, according to the minister, if my DNI is stolen, it would be blocked. Does this mean the card would be somehow linked to a central server managing the data? Who would be in charge of handling such sensitive information? What are the safeguards? How will they be implemented?”

Finally, she compared this new ID card in Argentina to what took place in Germany under Nazi rule, when national identification systems were used to determine which parts of the population to target. “Who will protect my identity? This kind of information should not exist in government databases. Germany would not accept this system under any circumstances. A monitoring system will eventually be used to monitor.”

Ramiro Álvarez Ugarte, lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights (ADC) warns: “If our DNI includes, for example, our home address and regular SUBE trips, losing it means that whoever finds it will know where we live and when we are out.”

Andrés Pérez Esquivel, sociologist and member of the Latin American Network of Surveillance, Technology, and Society Studies, told Infobae that this new technology “would make Argentina’s the world’s most invasive surveillance system.” Officials from the National Registry of Persons argue that public agencies can already access such private information today.

Translated by Daniel Duarte.

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