08 April 2012

Ley de Geolocalización and warrantless cellphone tracking in Mexico

This is a short write up I did about a recently passed law in Mexico regardless the warrantless tracking of cell phones.

I write to express three concerns about Ley de Geolocalización:

First, the collection of real-time geolocation data without a warrant appears to violate a general right of privacy as outlined in the Mexican Constitution1:

Article 16:
Disturbances against any person's family, residence, documents or possessions...shall be made by a warrant issued by an authorized official.

Search warrants, which shall be issued in writing by judicial authorities exclusive, shall establish the place where the search will take place, the person or persons who will be arrested and the objects which will be looked for.

Private communications shall not be breached. Any attempt directed to infringe them will be considered as a criminal offence under the law.
And Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights2:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Second, the proposed Article 133 says: "De todas las solicitudes, la autoridad dejará constancia en autos y las mantendrá en sigilo."3  Translated: "Of all the requests, the authority will record in the file and kept in secret." This appears to violate the principle of due process as provided in multiple sections of Mexico's Constitution and Article 8 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Third, cellular signals (and the geolocation data that is transmitted by them) are vulnerable to jamming , which would render the tracking of a subject's signal difficult or impossible. An individual who suspects his cell phone is being tracked does not need to be a technical wizard to reduce or even eliminate his signal trail from would-be trackers.

These are but three of many serious concerns about Ley de Geolocalización, but they are serious enough to question the constitutionality of such legislation.

1 http://www.juridicas.unam.mx/infjur/leg/constmex/pdf/consting.pdf
2 http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
3 http://www.humanrightsgeek.blogspot.com/
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