Brazil adds state-controlled tech firms to privatization plan

Sale of assets is expected to raise over $300 billion - but measures to protect citizen data following the privatization are yet to be announced.

The Brazilian government is looking to sell two of the largest state-controlled technology bodies as part of wider plans to privatize a number of its assets.

The country's Federal Data Processing Service (Serpro) and the Social Security Technology and Information Company (Dataprev) are among the 9 state-owned firms to be sold under the national privatization plan.

Dataprev provides technology information services to the Brazilian social welfare system. It treats and stores data related to millions of citizens on benefits.

Serpro provides systems across all government bodies and is staffed by about 6000 employees. The massive IT estate overseen by the firm includes all the tax-related information on individuals and businesses.

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None of the government officials that have discussed the privatization plan this week have made any mention to measures to protect the data belonging to Brazilian citizens following the sale of the two technology companies controlled by the state.

This week, officials said Jair Bolsonaro 's government also intends to shut down the investment arm of the Brazilian development bank (BNDES) after selling all the stakes in private companies that it owns.

As well as being a shareholder in companies such as plane manufacturer Embraer, BNDES is also the largest seed and venture capital investor in Brazil. It has funded many of the country's largest technology players, including CI&T, which the bank has successfully exited last month.

Technology initiatives funded by the development bank also include acceleration schemes for projects in areas such as blockchain and Internet of Things, as well as funding for fintechs focusing on solutions to make promotion and access to credit easier.

Correios, the country's postal service, is also on the list of the bodies that the government is aiming to completely or partially dispose of. Telebras, a Brazil-based holding company engaged in the telecommunications sector, is another asset that will be up for sale.

The government expects to raise 1.3 trillion reais ($315 billion) with the strategy. The privatization program has no specific timetable and will now see a number of feasibility studies carried out into the assets. The plan will also need approval from the Brazilian Congress.