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INAI: Legal Action Against National Register Of Telephone Users

By María Fernanda Barría | Thu, 04/29/2021 - 16:43

The National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI), unanimously signed an initiative to take legal actions before the Mexican Supreme Court to invalidate the creation of the National Register of Mobile Telephone Users, an initiative presented by the government. The plan is to collect sensitive personal information from users, through biometric data that includes the iris of the users' eyes, fingerprints and faces with the purpose of combating crimes. The register will be in charge of the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), which was approved by the Senate and published in the Official Gazette of the Federation in April.

Two specialized telecommunications courts have received several legal actions against the IFT's initiative. Nearly 28 have been admitted against 53, which have been rejected, according to El País. Juan Pablo Gómez Fierro, Second District Judge in Administrative Matters, indicated that the delivery of personal information to register a mobile phone line in the registry is an attack on digital privacy. Gómez signaled his concerns stating, "there is no direct relationship between the existence of the registry and the better prosecution of crimes and investigations." Several analysts and institutions have signaled the danger of an institution containing sensitive information as it represents a human rights violation that, in an extreme case, could lead to mistaken criminal punishments if people's identities are stolen.

Ricardo Mejía, the undersecretary of Public Safety and Citizen Protection, reported to the Senate Communications and Transportation Commission that the registry is relevant to protect consumers against organized crime, Expansión informed. One of the main arguments for creating the register is the existence of a black market of stolen telephone equipment used as a threat to extort and even kidnap citizens.

The IFT declared that the creation of the Mobile Telephone Users Register would require an initial investment of nearly MX $109 million from the IFT's annual budget and MX$88 million for the maintenance of the initiative every year. For instance, the program's creation will force 124 million cell phone users in Mexico to deliver personal information, according to data from INEGI. Industries are aware of the risks this initiative represents, since only authoritarian governments have implemented a similar pattern, these include: Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates.

The data used in this article was sourced from:  
Expansión, El País, EFE, Inegi
Photo by:   Photo by Julie Ricard
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María Fernanda Barría María Fernanda Barría Junior Journalist and Industry Analyst