Mexican Federal Institute of Communications approves guidelines jeopardizing net neutrality

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After seven years under a mandate to produce guidelines for internet traffic management, the Mexican Federal Institute of Communications (IFT) has approved an internet traffic management regulation that, despite the  warnings from civil society, disregards the rights of millions of people across the country.

“We are disappointed to see that Mexico insists on adopting net neutrality regulations that generally do not contribute to curbing internet service providers’ bad behavior,” said Eric Null, U.S. Policy Manager and Global Connectivity Lead at Access Now. “That the people of Mexico had to wait seven years for essentially nothing makes the whole situation even worse. We will continue to push Mexico to improve its regulations.”

The guidelines allow internet service providers (ISPs) to engage in the harmful practices of paid priority —  giving preferential treatment to certain content over others in exchange for payment — and zero rating — exempting certain services from a data cap. These practices unfairly discriminate against nonprofit apps like Signal, or startups that cannot pay to compete against large corporations, or meet the difficult technical and administrative requirements needed to be categorized as “free applications.”

Despite minor improvements on privacy safeguards, no change has been made to strengthen internet service providers’ network management transparency. Moving forward, people who use the internet and the IFT still won’t have the tools to hold internet service providers accountable for malicious practices and privacy infringements.

One positive change for human rights, however, was outlined in the regulation, stating that government-mandated internet shutdowns, or requests to disrupt the internet or mobile apps, are no longer permissible. 

“We had to fight in Court to force IFT to finally publish the Guidelines after seven years. After this decision that privileges the economic interests of a few companies at the cost of public interest we will continue to fight in Court and in Congress to finally make net neutrality a reality in Mexico,” said Grecia Macías, lawyer at Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D).

Access Now is part of the #SalvemosInternet coalition, and will continue to fight to ensure the right to freedom of expression, privacy, and net neutrality are upheld in Mexico.