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Supreme Court suspends Mexico’s biometric registry law

Supreme Court suspends Mexico’s biometric registry law

The Supreme Court of Mexico has granted a request to temporarily suspend a law requiring telecoms companies to collect biometric data from individuals before they can acquire a mobile device, Proceso reports.

The bill, which was passed in April, required Mexican users to provide data such as fingerprints, iris, face and voice biometrics for the putting in place of what authorities call a national biometric registry, dubbed Panaut.

The decision by the Supreme Court follows a legal tussle fronted by the Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) which pushed for the suspension of the law over concerns about data privacy violations, the report notes.

The motion to see this move blocked was filed in May by the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) and the IFT. A lower court had blocked enforcement of the law.

Among other things, the IFT had argued that Panaut goes against its budgetary autonomy and violates its regulatory powers, reason why it decided not to allocate resources to the project for the 2021 fiscal year, Processo mentions.

Mexican authorities have sustained that the biometric data registry is meant to fight all forms of crime, reduce incidents of kidnappings for ransom, and fraud perpetrated via mobile devices.

But civil society actors have picked holes in the legislation, saying it contains many gaps through which people’s privacy rights could be compromised.

Efforts by Mexico to create a national biometric registry have been ongoing since 2008, but they have met with vociferous criticism from rights associations and non-governmental organizations.

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