With Brazil mired in epic political corruption, consumer group Reclame Aqui (Complain Here) and Grey Brazil developed a Google Chrome plug-in that highlights the names of politicians in bright purple and explains the charges against them in a pop-up box. And Grey says other countries, including the U.S., are eager to develop their own versions to bring citizens accurate information about their leaders and help them choose the right candidates.
"The Color of Corruption" ("Vigie Aqui" in Portuguese) works on every website, search engine and social network, and gathers information from Brazil's complex court system about politicians accused of corruption. Sadly, that's just about everyone at the highest levels of government, including current, former and possible future presidents of Brazil, as well as government ministers. Brazil's current president, Michel Temer, who replaced Dilma Rousseff last year after her impeachment and has long been under scrutiny for taking millions of dollars in illicit payments himself, is under new pressure to resign after being caught on tape -- for the second time! -- discussing bribes. Most of the candidates to replace him are under investigation themselves for assorted illegal behavior.
So it's a big job to monitor all those politicians, and the ongoing investigations into the billions of dollars they've stolen over the years. After a few months in beta, "The Color of Corruption" got a major boost last month when a prestigious Brazilian university signed on as a partner.
"We have now 20,000 students being trained to track official data from all courts and update our database daily," said Rafael Gonzaga, a Grey Brazil creative director. Participation is voluntary, and students will get course credit.
With all that manpower, "The Color of Corruption" is ramping up dramatically. About 1,000 politicians from the president to members of congress are being monitored now, and the goal is to extend surveillance to more than 70,000 elected officials and other politicians by 2020, Gonzaga said.
Groups in seven countries, including the U.S., are negotiating for the plug-in, he said.
The U.S. already has an automatic Trump tweet checker, a social media tool introduced by the Washington Post to help people cope with Donald Trump's tweet storms.
"Any brand can lead the initiative in other countries," said Rodrigo Jatene, Grey Brazil's co-president and chief creative officer. "We've been talking to one of the leading local newspapers in Peru and an anti-corruption NGO in Hungary. But we are also talking to a magazine, an IT company, political blogs, different consumer and citizen right organizations, etc. The only thing another company has to do is to fill the database with names of local corrupt politicians and their official records. The technology itself is ready to run anywhere in the world."
Apart from the international interest in tracking corrupt politicians, "The Color of Corruption" will enter the awards-circuit debut next month at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.