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Groups call on Mexico to abandon biometric digital ID proposal

Groups call on Mexico to abandon biometric digital ID proposal

Mexico’s proposal to establish a biometrics-backed digital ID with a centralized database should be halted due to the threat such a system would pose to human rights, according to Access Now, Privacy International and more than 20 other groups.

The advocacy groups address a joint letter to Mexico’s Senate, arguing the technology is inaccurate by reference to problems with proctoring systems, and the risk of deepfakes, data leaks, and social exclusion. They state that the CUID should be based on decentralized systems, and that the National Population Registry should not include biometric data. The CUID should be optional, should not be a requirement for access to services, they argue, and records of its use should be prevented.

Biometric data is not the most effective way to “legally” identify a person,” Access Now claims in its announcement.

Meet the new biometrics boogeyman

Access Now Latin America Policy Manager Gaspar Pisanu invokes the seizure of biometric gear, and limited amounts of data, in Afghanistan to draw a contrast with the Mexican “government’s push for a biometric CUID.”

It is not immediately evident if Pisanu intends to imply an imminent takeover of Mexico and its identity registries by a Taliban-like group, but proponents of biometrics in digital identity systems would do well to notice the trending line of argument early.

Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D) Lawyer Grecia Macias argues that biometric technology is not necessary to build security into the system. Further, he says the claim that it is necessary is “similar to authoritarian regimes when it comes to justifying massive surveillance,” and invokes George Orwell.

Mexico’s Supreme Court recently temporarily suspended a law which would have required telecoms to register biometrics with new mobile devices.

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