Photo: George Prentzas/Unsplash

By KELIN DILLON

Beginning on Saturday, April 17, any consumers in Mexico wishing to purchase a new SIM card for their phones will be required to present biometric data that is set to be kept on file as part of the country’s new National Register of Mobile Users.

Mexico is now the 18th country in the world to implement this policy, following the lead of countries like Venezuela in collecting its population’s personal data.

“Only 17 countries around the world require citizens to provide biometric data for the purchase of a telephony chip. Practically all those countries are authoritarian or dictatorships, such as China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela,” said Luis Fernando García, director of the Network in Defense of Digital Rights (R3D).

Fernando García went on to call the new measure authoritarian and a serious setback, facilitating monitoring, surveillance and espionage by the government on its citizens.

Now, users in Mexico looking to acquire a new chip for their phone will be required to supply their mobile phone number, the date and time of line activation on the SIM card, the user’s full name and nationality, address of residence and official identification number with photo, as well as the user’s biometric data.

The registry will reportedly cancel all phone lines of users who do not comply with the new measures.

However, companies have already filed national lawsuits against the new measures, with Trusan and Roma Abogados filing against the creators of the registry, the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law (LFTR), arguing that requiring biometric data puts users at risk, and likewise plans to file further appeals against the registry within the next 30 days.

“The recent reforms approved to the LFTR … represent a setback in privacy and the digital divide. It is a great irresponsibility on the part of the legislators. The story is not over. Amparos will come and many people will not register,” said telecommunications watch group Observatel in a statement on Twitter.

Meanwhile, R3D is looking into methods to promote protection against the registry.

…April 21, 2021

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