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Mexican lawmakers grant Interior Ministry control over biometric data, spark controversy

Mexican lawmakers grant Interior Ministry control over biometric data, spark controversy

The Chamber of Deputies approved the General Law for the Operation of Civil Registries, granting the Ministry of the Interior control over Mexican citizens’ personal information, including biometric data.

This turn of events has caused controversy and alarm among opposition sectors and civil organizations, who fear it may infringe on their right to privacy, El Pais reports (in Spanish).

The recent House vote on the law, which still needs to be approved by the Senate, will see the creation of a new body called the National Civil Registry Council. This council will be under the Ministry of the Interior’s control and oversee the civil registries for all 32 states in Mexico. This body will control biometric data and other personal information such as name, sex, place and date of birth and nationality.

The Ministry of the Interior, Adán Augusto López, says the new legislation guarantees the right to identity and access to services provided by the civil registry for all Mexicans. He says this legislation also establishes mechanisms to ensure that everyone is registered after birth.

He also announced the development of a National Registration and Identity System. This computer-based system will allow people to access services related to birth, marriage, death and adoption certificates.

Many people have expressed concern about the country’s National Data Protection Law, claiming that it infringes upon Mexican citizens’ right to privacy and personal data and oversteps state-level jurisdiction. PAN deputy Marco Humberto Aguilar argued that it violates articles 4 and 73 of the Mexican constitution. Another PAN deputy, María Elena Pérez Jaen, proposed a motion to suspend it.

Pablo Amílcar Sandoval, deputy of Morena, proposed an approved amendment mandating security measures to protect personal data and biometric data from damage, loss, alteration, destruction, use and unauthorized access.

The new law approved by the Chamber does not specify where the data will be stored and protected.

The ongoing discourse regarding the security of biometric information has been a point of contention in Mexican politics. In 2021, the Senate approved a project to create a national register of mobile telephone users, which would include the biometric information of mobile phone users. The Supreme Court halted the program and later declared the database to be unconstitutional.

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