Supreme Court Shoots Down Cell Phone Registry as Unconstitutional

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In a unanimous vote on Monday, April 25, Mexico’s Supreme Court (SCJN) determined that a new law proposed by Congress that would require the owners of all cell phones to be listed in a national registry was unconstitutional.

After reviewing the law, which was intended to prevent extortion scams using cell phones, the SCJN ruled that the National Registry of Mobile Telephony Users (Panaut) was unconstitutional because it posed a risk to the basic right to privacy.

Justice Norma Piña, who proposed the court review the law, said that the creation of the registry was not necessary within the context of a democratic society and could seriously harm the human rights of mobile phone users.

On the other hand, Chief Justice Arturo Zaldívar said that there was not adequate protections provided in the registry to protect people’s personal data.

Moreover, he said, forcing people to register their biometric data to buy a cell phone would only cause more mobile phones to be stolen, since no one would commit a crime knowing that the state has all the necessary data to find them.

Justice Jorge Pardo Rebolledo agreed that a person who commits a crime would never use a cell phone in their own name, adding that proposing a registry to safeguards user information in order to combat crime is to ignore how crime works in Mexico.

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