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Mexico's INAI to block biometric registry in Supreme Court

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Mexico's data protection institute has become the latest to oppose the country's plans for a biometric register of mobile phone subscribers.

The National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) unanimously voted to file an unconstitutionality action before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) this week.

The development followed the news last week that Judge Juan Pablo Gomez Fierro had blocked part of the law that would require users to give personal data to telcos under the National Register of Mobile Telephone Users (PNUTM).

In  a statement released yesterday local time, the presiding commissioner, Blanca Lilia Ibarra Cadena, affirmed that INAI cannot be oblivious to events and decisions that impact people's lives and human rights; in this case, he emphasised that various provisions of the reform to the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law affect the rights of protection of personal data and access to information, therefore, in the exercise of its powers, the Institute will file an action of unconstitutionality.

He said: "The aforementioned decree makes it possible to warn of constitutional problems related to the lack of proportionality in the intervention of human rights that implies the creation of a registry, which includes biometric data of the users of the mobile phone service, in which it is mandatory to register under penalty of the cancellation of the service, a measure that also has retroactive effects to the detriment of people who have had mobile phone service since before the reform came into force."

Specifically, INAI has said that articles 15, section XLII bis , 176, 180 bis , 180 ter , 180 quater , 180 quintus and Transitory Fourth of the decree could violate the rights of protection of personal data and access to information.

Their action instructs the Director General of Legal Affairs to file an unconstitutionality action before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN ) against the decree by which various provisions of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law are amended and added and the National Register of Mobile Telephone Users is created.

As Capacity reported, the register it is on track to be introduced as an amendment to Mexico's Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law. The bill was approved by the lower house in February and by the senate on 13 April, but at 54 votes in favour, 49 against and 10 abstentions in the latest hearing, the backing was far from unanimous.

INAI commissioner Adrián Alcalá Méndez said: "Having a database with the biometric data of almost 90 million people, implies security measures to guarantee their safety and whoever owns this information must have the capacity to implement them, because nowhere in the world will there be two people with the same fingerprints or with the same irises. 

"If this database were violated, disclosed or sold, there would be an irreparable damage, there would be no way to protect the data it contains, as there is no way to change our biometric data”, he warned.

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