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Mexico’s highest court rules against AMLO’s proposed Panaut phone registry

Mexico City, Mexico — The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) has declared AMLO’s Panaut telephone registry system as unconstitutional. On Monday, the SCJN said that the entire proposed Panaut (Padrón Nacional de Usuarios de Telefonía Móvil) registry was a violation of privacy of personal data.

The Panaut or National Register of Mobile Telephony Users, would have seen the creation of a database of personal information for every person in Mexico contracting a land line or cell phone. That personal information would have included biometric data.

After a vote, the SCJN found the proposed registry to be unconstitutional for violating user privacy and have suggested the complete invalidity of the decree.

Mexico’s highest court discussed the actions of unconstitutionality presented by senators and the National Institute of Transparency, Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data (INAI) against the decree to reform the Federal Broadcasting and Telecommunications Law that would create the registry.

Nine ministers spoke out for the complete and total invalidity of the decree. Minister Norma Piña proposed to invalidate the entire regulatory system created by Panaut because it violates the rights to intimacy, privacy and the protection of personal data.

She stressed that the Panaut was created to collaborate with authorities before the commission of crimes with a mobile device, but there are other mechanisms provided, for example, in the National Code of Criminal Procedures, which are less restrictive of rights.

“The Panaut is not a necessary legislative measure for a democratic society, since it does not maintain a balance between the need for data in limited circumstances and due respect for the right to privacy of individuals, in addition to not finding justification, since the Federal Law of Telecommunications and the National Code of Criminal Procedures already provides a series of equally suitable mechanisms to collaborate with justice authorities in relation to the commission of crimes, especially those committed through cell phones, but which are less restrictive of the rights to privacy and protection of personal data,” she explained.

She also pointed out that there is no foreseen protection to guarantee the security of the database to avoid misuse of user information.

Minister Juan Luis González Alcántara Carrancá agreed, recalling the failed National Registry of Mobile Telephony Users (Renaut), which was created in 2009, that put users at greater risk by being leaked. He pointed out that the Renaut database reached the illegal market and once control over that information is lost, it is impossible to recover it.

Minister President Arturo Zaldívar said that it is absurd to think that a person will carry out an extortion attempt with the cell phone that is in his name and even more so, if he provided his biometric data.

“Extortions are never carried out from the phones that the extortionist has in his name…the system pretends that the obligations of the State are now the responsibilities of individuals, something that we definitely do not share,” said Zaldívar.

Zaldívar also said that there is no security in the handling of the Panaut data and the cause for the State to have that information is unjustified.