Mexico publishes law establishing fingerprint database of mobile phone users

[JURIST] The Mexican government published a law [draft text, in Spanish] Monday that will create a database of mobile phone users in the country, including vital information and fingerprints, once it takes effect in April. The law, published in the Official Gazette of the Federation [official website, in Spanish], amends certain provisions of the Federal Telecommunications Act, and was passed into law by the Mexican Congress last year. According to the draft law, the database will be established to combat extortion, threats, kidnapping, organized crime, and drug trafficking. The law will require mobile telecommunications firms to provide authorities with the name, address, nationality, identification number, and fingerprints of customers, as well as the type of communication utilizing the provider's network, in some cases. It is unclear [Reuters report] whether the Mexican government will provide any funding for the establishment of the database.

The Mexican law comes as governments worldwide attempt to reconcile free and open communications with the security threats presented by terrorism and organized criminal activity. In November, the UK government dropped [JURIST report] from its immediate legislative agenda a controversial security database bill that would have required telecoms to keep records of all domestic phone calls, e-mails, and Internet activity. Also in November, the lower house of the German parliament approved a new law that expanded the power [JURIST report] of the German federal police to undertake online and telephone surveillance. In June, the Swedish parliament passed a controversial wiretapping law [JURIST report] that gave the country's electronic surveillance agency broad authority to monitor international telephone and electronic communications passing through the country. In October 2007, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) refused to investigate [JURIST report] the involvement of US telecommunications firms in the US National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive].



 

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