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Here’s what Costa Rica’s biometric identification bill says

December 2, 2020

Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly is considering a bill that would create a national biometric database of the country’s residents.

Deputies have the opportunity to review the law project and request changes before the initiative is brought before the 57-person Congress for two debates and votes.

Here is a translation of the full text of the bill in its current form. We’ve bolded relevant parts of the project.

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SINGLE NATIONAL REPOSITORY LAW TO STRENGTHEN PERSONAL IDENTIFICATION AND TRACKING CAPABILITIES

ARTICLE 1: The Supreme Electoral Tribunal will have the responsibility of creating, as a State reserve, a National Platform for Biometric Identification, which will store biometric information on all Costa Ricans over twelve years of age in a single national database, without prejudice to the fact that new technology will allow to expand the identification of people through the incorporation of more biometric traits that are considered necessary. The General Directorate of Technological Strategy of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal will be the body responsible for managing the National Biometric Identification Platform, as well as the design, development, preventive and evolutionary maintenance of the automated system, in accordance with the provisions of this law.

In addition, the aforementioned repository will record the same information for all foreigners who enter and reside temporarily or permanently in the country, as well as those foreigners who require a visa to enter the national territory.

ARTICLE 2: The registry of biometric information of Costa Rican people will be the exclusive competence of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

In the case of foreigners, the registry will be carried out by the General Directorate of Migration and Foreigners during the process of issuing the identification documents that correspond to that institution, using the same national repository established in the first article of this law.

The General Directorate of Migration and Immigration, the consulates and any other public body that registers biometric information of people or that issues identification documents of people, such as residence cards, work permits, refugee identification, passport, visas or others official documents will use the same biometric identification technological platform of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

For the fulfillment of the purposes of this law, the General Directorate of Technological Strategy of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal will be in charge of coordinating with the other institutions the use of said National Biometric Identification Platform for the registration of information on foreign persons as appropriate.

ARTICLE 3: The Judicial Investigation Organism, the police forces attached to the Ministry of Public Security, the Public Ministry and the General Directorate of Migration and Immigration will have full access to the biometric records contained in the national repository to carry out queries and collations pertinent to track and identify suspects of having participated in illegal acts, so that they are exempt from the charges referred to in article 24 of the Electoral Code and the second paragraph of article 4 of this law.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal shall coordinate with them the appropriate mechanisms for direct and immediate consultation with the platform to comply with the purposes of this law.

ARTICLE 4: The Powers of the Republic, the bodies of the Legislative Power, the ministries and their attached bodies that require verifying the identity of the people, will use the National Platform for Biometric Identification of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for the fulfillment of their purposes and will remain exempt from the charges referred to in article 24 of the Electoral Code.

The decentralized institutions that make up the Costa Rican public sector and the private sector in general, that require verifying the identity of the people through the aforementioned national platform, may acquire the corresponding services in accordance with what is established in article 24 of the Electoral Code. For these purposes, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal will set the rates in a reasonable and objective manner.

ARTICLE 5: Create a specific fund for the financing and modernization of the National Platform for Biometric Identification of People, exclusively destined to finance the design, development, preventive and evolutionary maintenance of technologies for the biometric identification of people of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

Said fund will be financed, in its entirety, with the resources from the application of article 24 of the Electoral Code established by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the contributions that the Supreme Elections Tribunal enters into with the user public institutions, as well as from the resources that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal includes annually in its preliminary draft budget for maintenance expenses of the National Biometric Identification Platform.

The expenses budgeted by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for the operation of the National Biometric Identification Platform will be considered essential to make the suffrage effective, since this Platform constitutes an essential input for the issuance of the identity card and the national electoral roll. Therefore, the preparation of the ordinary budget project for this purpose must be treated in strict accordance with the provisions of article 177 of the Political Constitution, by virtue of which, it may not be objected by the Ministry of Finance or its department. specialized as appropriate.

For this purpose, the Ministry of Finance in conjunction with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal will create a specific programmatic category for the electoral body to allocate the income and expenses corresponding to the aforementioned Platform; and it will be administered through a different special account.

ARTICLE 6: Except for what is stipulated in this law, prohibit any institution or organ of the Costa Rican State from allocating economic resources in its budgets for the design and development of biometric identification platforms or biometric information storage repositories, both of a civil nature, such as the one established in this law. Police forces that, due to the nature of their functions, must acquire biometric identification systems are exempt from this provision.

AMENDMENTS TO OTHER LAWS

ARTICLE 7: Paragraph 4 of Article 13 of Law 8764, General Law on Migration and Aliens, of August 19, 2009 is amended:

Article 13. The functions of the General Directorate, developed in the content of this Law and its Regulations, will be the following:

4) Create and keep updated a general registry of foreigners who have authorization for legal permanence in the country, which will be stored in the Unique Biometric Identification Repository that will be used by the National Biometric Identification Platform of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal.

ARTICLE 8: Article 24 is added to Law 8968 “Electoral Code” which will read as follows:

Article 24 bis.– Unique Biometric Identification Repository

The information collected and contained in the databases of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, for the identification of Costa Rican people, including those necessary for the operation and use of the Unique Biometric Identification Repository that will be used by the National Biometric Identification Platform of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. will not be subject to the principle of informed consent established by national legislation on data protection, when they are for electoral, identification or identity verification purposes.

TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS

TRANSITORY I: The Executive Power in conjunction with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal will regulate this law within a maximum period of six months from its entry into force.

TRANSITORY II: The Supreme Electoral Tribunal will modernize its technological equipment and computer systems within a maximum period of twenty-four months, in such a way that they are useful and compatible with the necessary technical requirements established by the judicial authorities, the Public Ministry or the Organism of Judicial investigation in order to comply with the purposes of this law.

TRANSITORY III: Those Costa Ricans or foreigners residing in the country who have not registered their fingerprints or other biometric records at the time of entry into force of this law, will do so when processing for the first time, replace or renew the documents of relevant identification.

This law is ratified from its publication.

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