Mexico’s Supreme Court rejects Government’s attempt to collect biometric data from cellular users

The First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) confirmed the suspension of the National Register of Mobile Telephone Users (Panaut), also known as the new mobile telephone register, under the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT).

By four votes to one, the ministers rejected the appeal filed by the Federal Government to appeal the suspension of the law on June 11 by Minister Norma Lucía Piña Hernández, which prevented the IFT from initiating the process to launch the National Register of Mobile Telephone Users, which provides for the collection of biometric data from all users. The government is seeking to collect fingerprints, iris scans, and other biometric data of all cell users in Mexico, including foreigners.

The Mexican Senate approved the controversial bill on April 12, 2021, and would create a nationwide registry of cell phone users, which will be mandatory for all cell phone users and contain each person’s biometric data.

The main objective of the reform, according to the bill, is to stop the crimes of extortion and kidnappings that, in many cases, are committed from prisons, through cell phones that enter clandestinely into prisons.

The register, according to the bill, “is a database with information on the individuals or legal entities that own each mobile telephone line that has numbers from the Fundamental Technical Numbering Plan.”

The register will contain 10 different data points: the mobile phone line number; the date and time of activation of the mobile phone line purchased with the SIM card; the full name of the owner, or where appropriate, the name or business name of the user; nationality; official identification number with photograph, and Unique Population Registry Code (CURP) of the line holder.

In addition, cellular providers must collect biometric data of the user, or, where appropriate, of the legal representative of the business registering the cell phone; the user’s address; the data of the telecommunications company, or where appropriate, of the authorized ones; and the contact information for the mobile phone line, either postpaid or prepaid.

Mexico’s Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the bill, but today has once again suspended the activation of the bill until the constitutionality question has been answered.

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