Sunday 3 December 2023

INS accelerates the Digital Marchamo plan

The "Digital Marchamo" is an initiative to replace the current sticker on the windshields of vehicles to that with a chip, in later stages, would make it possible for the authorities to track the routes through a technology called RFID

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Q COSTA RICA – The initiative to digitize the Marchao, the right of circulation for vehicles, has sparked a lot of debate across different groups, due to its cutting-edge technology and the uncertainties that come with it.

“It will not be an espionage mechanism”: Carlos Mejías, director of the Digital Marchamo project at the INS. Courtesy-Canva

Carlos Mejías, the head of the project for the Instituto Nacional de Seguros (INS) which collects and distributes the Marchamo fees, says that people’s worries about this initiative overshadow the positives it offers.

Mejías is saying that there’s nothing fishy going on – they’re not trying to install any surveillance or do any spying as people think. Everything is being done openly and honestly, and that’s how it’s all being done.

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“It is not true that we are trying to implement a surveillance infrastructure, much less espionage, as the population is being led to believe. That is completely false. There’s nothing smelly here either; everything is being done with transparency and that is how all the parts of the process are being developed,” said Mejías.

Regarding the potential use of impersonal fines with the ‘smart city’ concept based on technologies, authorities state that its integration with other applications will depend on its level of development.

“The first stage of the project seeks to provide it with the necessary technology and that allows us to make it operational. (…) Can you aspire to enable other use cases like the ones you mention (impersonal parts)? The answer is yes. However, for this we will have to pass filters of technical and legal analysis,” indicates Mejías.

The Digital Marchamo may soon be used to analyze driving patterns, giving MOPT traffic engineers the data necessary to create strategies for reducing traffic congestion.

According to Carlos Ávila, Vice Minister of Transport, “This would enable them to identify which days and times are busiest, as well as potential problem areas in cities and highways that present the greatest traffic jams or accident problems, to provide more efficient services.”

Apprehension about the data

Experts consulted by LA REPÚBLICA are worried about the data and believe that good data management is essential for the project to be successful and for citizens to have legal certainty.

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“The topic of data security and its implementation is essential. Government officials should guarantee data is anonymized and grouped together in such a way that individuals’ journeys and movements cannot be identified,” Sebastián Urbina, former Vice Minister of Transport.

Juan Manuel Campos, President Cyber Regulation, continued by saying that “the State is bound by the principle of legality and can’t take measures that are not permitted by the legal system.”

Ignacio Guzmán, Senior Counsel, Bufete Alta, also mentioned that “proper management of the project and user data will grant the necessary safeguards to ensure the Digital Marchmo’s aims are not misused and that cross-checking of information is possible.”

Lastly, the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Information and Communication Technologies, “there are potential risks associated with cyber criminals attempting to access people’s data, but that these risks can be minimized or eliminated, depending on the information in the chips either in the public domain or not.”

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The road of the Digital Marchamo

In April of this year, the Digital Marchamo project was officially announced, with the involvement of different institutions such as the MOPT, MICITT, and INS. It is expected to be implemented by the end of 2023.

On June 5th, the INS initiated a public tender for the acquisition of 1.8 million ‘smart stickers’ that would replace the traditional sticker, as well as for the search for bidders that can provide the necessary technology for the project.

On June 10th, legislator Johana Obando from the Liberal Progresista party requested for the authorities involved in the project to appear before the Plenary to clarify certain aspects related to the capture of information and its treatment.

On June 15th, Obando and a group of citizens filed an unconstitutionality action against the Digital Marchamo project due to possible suspicions of violations of privacy, video surveillance, and unauthorized use of data. This action also requested the suspension of the bidding process.

Source: La Republica


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