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Mexico’s national biometric register of mobile phone users proposal advances

But GSMA questions its scope and privacy liabilities
Mexico’s national biometric register of mobile phone users proposal advances

The Communications and Transportation Commission of the Chamber of Deputies in Mexico recently approved the proposal amending the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law to create a National Register of Mobile Telephone Users storing biometrics and personal data, Latinus reports.

The Padrón Nacional de Usuarios de Telefonía Móvil will include users’ telephone number, date and time of activation of the SIM card, names, nationality, official identification number, biometric data, and Population Registration Key (CURP) number.

The latter was established last year in December when the Chamber of Deputies approved the creation of the new General Law on Population, paving the way for a new national digital ID system.

Now, the new proposal has been turned over to the Senate, and if approved, will allow the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) to “install, regulate and maintain the registry,” and to oversee the “exchange and verification of the information with the competent authorities.”

Fines for those who make “improper use” of the information in the user registry are up to 20 thousand Units of Measurement and Update (UMA), a variant used to calculate the payments, obligations or penalties that citizens or companies owe the government.

According to deputy Morena Erika Rosas Uribe, the register of users will contribute to the reduction of “fraud, cyberbullying, and identity theft,” since they are practices related to the use of cell phones.

These views were not shared by deputy of the Citizen Movement, Higinio Del Toro Pérez, however, who said that the biometric registry of users is of no use if a related security strategy and policy is not implemented.

The Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA) echoed these views, with the institution dubbing the Register as a replacement of the failed National Registry of Telecommunications Users (RENAUT), according to R3D.

For context, RENAUT was created in 2008 and eliminated in 2011 after its database was compromised and put up for sale on the black market.

GSMA added that there is currently no evidence that mandatory SIM card registration reduces criminal activity, and that techniques and mechanisms that are currently used to spoof telephone numbers could endanger citizens’ privacy.

Moreover, the association also stressed that only 17 countries in the world require some type of biometric identification for the purchase of a SIM card, and most of them are authoritarian nations.

R3D has sent a technical note to the legislators in the Chamber of Deputies with further information on these arguments.

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