Mexico: Senate approves creation of National Registry of Mobile Telephony Users

In brief

On 13 April 2021, in a close vote, the Plenary of the Senate of the Republic approved the creation of a National Registry of Mobile Telephony Users ("Registry") The Registry will include biometric data of users, including fingerprints, iris of the eyes, facial features, tone of voice and signature. Its objective is to reduce the crimes of extortion and kidnapping, which generate profits for organized crime estimated at MXN 12 billion pesos (approx. USD 600,745,320) per year.

In depth

The amendment to the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law seeks to require 122 million users in Mexico to identify themselves by registering in the Registry when acquiring a SIM card or a prepaid telephone line. At the time of acquiring a new telephone line, users will have to present identification, proof of address and a biometric identification method.

Users who do not register in the registry may be subject to a fine equivalent to MXN 89,000 pesos (approx. USD 4,470.00) and the definitive cancellation of the telephone line. The purpose of the Registry is to avoid or reduce the use of disposable lines for extortion or kidnapping.

According to the approved ruling, the information in the registry will be confidential and reserved under the terms of the General Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information, the General Law for the Protection of Personal Data held by Obligated Entities and the Federal Law for the Protection of Personal Data held by Private Parties.

Recommended actions

We believe that this new amendment could lead to serious violations of privacy and security of citizens. The creation of a centralized biometric database could lead to irreversible violations of the right to privacy and undermines the presumption of innocence of its users.

While it has been suggested that the objective of the Registry is to reduce the risk of extortion crime, the Global Association of Telephony Operators, GSMA, has stated that there is no evidence to show that a mandatory registration of telephone lines reduces criminal activity.

Additionally, Article 108 Bis of the amendment establishes that "it is presumed [...] the ownership of the person who appears in it (Registry) as owner or proprietor, as well as the validity of the legal acts related to the respective [...]", which presents a serious risk for the users and their presumption of innocence. The creation and maintenance of the Registry would have an enormous economic cost both for the Federal Telecommunications Institute and for all telecommunications concessionaires and authorized parties.

Following the publication of the ruling, several organizations have expressed their disagreement with the implementation of the Registry. Our responsibility with you will be to keep you informed of any changes.

More information

For more information, please refer to the Federal Telecommunications Institution's website, where you will find more information, or please contact your usual Baker McKenzie contact.

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