Today, January 28th, marks International Data Privacy Day. Celebrated by privacy advocates and data protection authorities across many countries, it is an opportunity to raise public awareness about privacy threats and urge governments to protect citizens' rights. This year's celebration in Mexico City also marks the official endorsement by the Mexican Federal District data protection authority (InfoDF) of the International Principles for the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, 13 guiding principles about limiting surveillance. This is timely, as the Mexican Federal Telecommunications Agency (IFT) is currently developing guidelines for cooperation between the government and the Internet Service Providers. This guidelines are one step towards the implementation of the data retention mandate law adopted last year.
Speaking at the event, Mucio Israel Hernández Guerrero, InfoDF's President Commissioner, explained that with the signing of the Principles, they intended to promote its implementation and carry out proactive work to enforce the protection of this fundamental right. InfoDF became the first privacy institution to sign these principles in Latin America.
Meanwhile, commissioner Elsa Bibiana Peralta explained that for InfoDF privacy is a fundamental right, and it shouldn't be a discussion if it needs to be protected or not. The celebration also gathered civil society representatives from Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias en México (AMARC-México), , Latinoamericanistas, ContingenteMx, and EFF.
EFF's International Rights Director Katitza Rodriguez calls upon Mexican authorities to work on the implementation of the Prinicples, to educate the police and law enforcements on human rights issues, and to legally challenge any regulation of surveillance measure that are unnecessary, inadequate, and disproportionate.
Paola Ricaurte, Professor at Tecnologico de Monterrey, explained, "By signing the 13 principles, Mexico City stands at the forefront of the country with regard to respect for international principles for the protection of privacy and adopts an international human rights interpretive framework for communication surveillance."
Civil society groups present in the event called upon the data protection authorities to:
- Adhere to the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance as a guide for the effective implementation of the existing human rights treaties signed by the Mexican government and many other governments around the world;
- Promote the implementation of international human rights standards, including the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance in Mexico City;
- Promote transparency about the use and scope of communications surveillance laws, regulations, activities, and guidelines, in accordance with the provisions of the 13 Principles. In particular, States should not interfere with service providers in their efforts to publish the procedures they apply when assessing and complying with State requests for communications surveillance. Moreover, States should provide individuals with sufficient information to enable them to fully comprehend the scope, nature, and application of surveillance laws.
Last year, InfoDF, filed an unconstitutionality lawsuit against the surveillance measures of the Ley Telecom that President Enrique Peña Nieto introduced, however, the Mexican Supreme Court of Justice ruled inadmissible the legal challenge. (For those who are not familiar, the Mexican government approved a law compelling telecom providers to retain, for two years, the details of who communicates with whom, for how long, and from where. It also allows authorities access to these details without a court order, exposing geolocation information to reveal the physical whereabouts of Mexicans). La Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales (R3D), alongside a large group of civil society organizations, filed an injunction against Articles 189 and 190 of Ley Telecom, which still is pending before the Federal Judiciary.
Members of civil society deprived of their privacy must fight back! Show policy makers how surveillance technology impacts privacy and freedom of expression. Help pressure governments in Mexico and throughout the world to pass meaningful privacy protections. And defend yourself by using encryption technology.