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Mexico’s Supreme Court struck down a 2021 law that would have ordered cellphone companies to collect biometric data from their customers in an effort to fight phone crime in the country, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.
The court ruled that the request to collect data such as fingerprints or eye scans was too invasive. It added that the authorities could implement other measures to fight crimes involving phones.
Cellphones are often used by kidnappers and extortionists, as well as prison inmates. But analysts and civic groups said that those calls are made from stolen, pre-paid or “burner” phones, which would evade the law.
The verdict marks another defeat for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has tried to crack down on phone crimes.
He had said the legislation is “just a registry to care for the population,” adding that “we will never spy on anybody.”
But critics warned that Mexico’s previous government had attempted to create a similar registry and later shut it down after user data was leaked.
They cautioned that a huge database with information from as many as 120 million cellphones would be vulnerable to hackers, who could leak or sell the data to help criminals.