Welcome to this week’s news round-up on the Brazilian innovation and technology ecosystem. Here is a selection of five key developments in Latin America’s largest economy during the week ending May, 1, 2020:
Tech firms develop Covid-19 “passport” app
Brazil-based technology firms are developing a mobile app that is intended as a means to manage the economic impact of Covid-19 and will be tested on a potential audience of about 1 million people working in the technology and communications (ICT) industry.
Similarly to the antibody-based immunity passports announced by countries such as the UK, the app is part of a set of proposals from the IT sector to handle the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. The initiative follows statements made by Economy minister Paulo Guedes, who suggested earlier this month that the country would adopt a passport tool, in combination with frequent testing, as a “back to work” pass.
According to the Brazilian Association of Technology Companies at Information and Communication (Brasscom), the app is currently being developed and will be initially tested by the ICT sector itself, which is classed as essential to the functioning of the economy. Brasscom’s member base includes companies like IBM, Microsoft, Totvs and others. However, the idea is that, subsequently, workers from all industry sectors use the app as a “risk-free certificate”.
Government launches digital strategy
Brazil’s digital government strategy for the next two years, which sets out the objectives, goals and indicators for the digitization of public services.
The plan covers the activity that will take place between 2020 and 2022. The projects relate to central government initiatives, but also encourages state and city governments to expand the their digital service offerings.
Among the various goals, the government will aim to make inroads in digital citizen identification, with the plan of issuing 40 million identities by 2022. Other objectives include completing the consolidation of 1500 government websites onto a single portal, as well as wider cloud adoption and broader access to open government data. The plan also foresees the delivery of at least six research projects around new technologies.
The digitization plan should generate savings of BRL 37.9 billion (USD 6.9 billion) to the taxpayer within a five-year timeframe, according to the project leads, the Special Secretariat for State Modernization and the Digital Government Secretariat. The estimate takes into account factors such as the intended reduction in bureaucracy, the workforce currently operating face-to-face services as well as rental of physical locations for service delivery.
Data protection regulations postponed to 2021
The Brazilian government announced on Wednesday (29) the postponement of the country’s General Data Protection Regulations to May 3, 2021. The regulations would go live in August this year. This is the second time the framework, which regulates how organizations collect and process information from individuals and entities, get pushed.
The amendment that postponed the introduction of the regulations is part of a provisional measure focusing on the emergency aid currently being provided to millions of Brazilians. There wasn’t a mention to the nominations of the National Data Protection Authority, which will be responsible for the enforcement of the rules and application of fines, and is considered as a key pillar of the upcoming regulations.
However, specialists argue that the postponement might not yet be definitive, since the amendment is valid for a maximum of 120 days and, if the new measures are not confirmed by the Congress within that timeframe, the situation reverts to what it was before, so Brazil’s GDPR-equivalent would come into effect on August 16, 2020.
Privatization of tech firms delayed
The privatization of Brazil’s information technology and communications companies will be delayed as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.
The sale of social security technology firm Dataprev and data processing service Serpro, originally planned for June 2021, have been pushed to the Q4 2021. The government also delayed the disposal of telecommunications firm Telebras, initially intended for mid-2021 and now pushed to 2022.
Ceitec, a state-owned semiconductor firm, is the only sale that appears to be unaffected by the new privatization schedule, as disposal plans for the first quarter of 2021 remain unchanged.
Endeavor publishes recommendations to protect Brazilian startups
High-impact entrepreneurship association Endeavor outlined recommendations to the public sector to help Brazilian startups navigate the current crisis.
The document focuses on measures such as easing access to credit, deferring taxes and increasing clarity and legal certainty in relation to measures around labor. The document, sent to government agencies and state-owned banks, is based on research, measures adopted in other countries and recommendations from experts. It also takes into account the main challenges currently facing high-growth, tech-driven Brazilian businesses.
Startups represent 0.5% of businesses active in Brazil, but are responsible for generating 70% of new job vacancies, according to a survey carried out in 2018 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics.