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>> The Venezuelan government recently rolled out a new version of a national ID card, the Carnet de la patria, also known as the Fatherland Card. Used for everything, from buying subsidized groceries, to signing up for healthcare. But the card is now raising alarm bells. Reuters has learned that President Nicolas Maduro's government hired the controversial Chinese telecom giant ZTE last year to build a database linked to the car.
According to contracts in internal government documents, as well as interviews with dozens of state and ZTE employees. Reuters found that Maduro's government isn't just using cards to identify citizens, but also to monitor them, by storing their personal information. Reuters correspondent Angus Berwick is in Caracas.>> Last year, a team of anti-government hackers decided that they wanted to get a better look about what's inside the fatherland database.
That included income data, employment data, addresses. What sort of benefits a person was receiving from the states, whether they were participating in events held by the ruling Socialist Party.>> To encourage the card's adoption, the government has granted cash prizes, to cardholders for civic duties. So far, as many as 18 million people, over half the population of Venezuela, have already signed up for the card.
>> Since the government first introduced the card, it has begun to link it to more and more kind of basic services, which people need to survive Venezuela's economic crisis. That includes in food handouts, medicine, pensions.>> Others worry about Chinese firm ZTEs involvement in developing the fatherland database.
ZTE has been slammed in the past by the United States for dealing with authoritarian governments. Now, it has a growing presence in Venezuela>> The company's done busienss here in Venezuela for over a decade, and more and more of the government is turning to ZTE. ZTE is also helping the government centralize video surveillance across the country
>> The head of ZTE in Venezuela told Reuters the company has no role in how the government uses the cardholder data. Venezuela's government also did not respond to requests for comment.