Through a joint letter, Access Now, Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D), Privacy International, and more than 20 other organizations are urgently calling on the government of Mexico to halt the mandatory Unique Digital Identity Card (CUID) project, which would amass the biometric data of all residents of Mexico into one centralized database.
“For years, authorities in Mexico have been building the foundations to control the population,” said Gaspar Pisanu, Latin America Policy Manager at Access Now. “It’s unbelievable that global news is broadcasting the Taliban’s seizure of biometric data in Afghanistan, at the same time local news is reporting on the government’s push for a biometric CUID.”
Biometric data is neither the only nor the most effective way to legally identify a person. By including the CUID as part of Mexico’s National Population Registry, it opens up space for abuse and misuse, and error, such as intrinsic recognition inaccuracies, technology hoaxes or deceptions, information leaks, and social exclusion. These threats are only heightened by Mexico’s continued embrace of digital authoritarianism that includes ramping up deployment of surveillance tech, creating a massive mobile phone biometric database, and proposing “fake news” laws to enable censorship.
“The Mexican government is trying to convey that the implementation of biometric technology is imperative for security. This is a false premise,” said Grecia Macias, Lawyer at R3D. “However, this discourse is similar to authoritarian regimes when it comes to justifying massive surveillance. Biometric data is sensitive information, and collecting such data for a centralized database is a recipe for an Orwellian disaster.”
Access Now and the civil society coalition recommend the Mexican Chamber of Senators:
- Do not include biometric data as part of the National Population Registry;
- Determine that the CUID should rest on decentralized systems;
- Make the CUID optional;
- Prevent making access to public or private services conditional on obtaining the CUID; and
- Prevent the collection, storage, or transfer of data that records the use of the CUID.
This urgent call to review the Unique Digital Identity Card process in Mexico comes only weeks after the Taliban seized biometric technologies and data in Afghanistan that is leaving the future of unknown amounts of personal data ripe for exploitation.
Sigue las cuentas de Access Now para Latinoamérica: