The National Register of Mobile Telephone Users (Panaut) is officially suspended and the credit goes to the society that opposed it from the beginning and to Adolfo Cuevas, president of the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), who, through the regulator, presented a controversy constitutional law against various provisions contained in that controversial record.
The First Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation granted the suspension to the IFT because the Panaut imposed the obligation to make the necessary expenditures for its installation, operation, regulation and maintenance, all of which was charged to its budget.
In an unexpected way, the Congress of the Union has reduced the IFT budget under an erroneous criterion of austerity and as part of the presidential slogan to question and weaken the autonomous organizations. The IFT protects various fundamental rights. The Chamber of Deputies has only granted reduced budgetary resources for the substantive activities of the IFT. Not even the draft budget for expenditures for 2022 includes money for the implementation of the Panaut, so the federal government believes that things do not cost.
Remember that the Panaut was an original bad idea of deputy Mario Delgado, current leader of Morena. Since the initiative was known, criticism of the registration of mobile phone users, from society and autonomous entities such as the IFT and the INAI, focused on the effects on privacy, the protection of personal data and the registration of biometric data .
The Panaut was approved by the Chambers of Deputies and Senators without prior discussion and ignoring the warnings and violations of human rights, as a false solution to extortion and kidnappings that are perpetrated from prisons through the use of cell phones that, strangely enough, and without control, they enter those prisons.
However, the Panaut raises a series of systematic violations of fundamental rights rarely seen, hence its rejection in public opinion, through constitutional protection and controversies of autonomous bodies.
In addition to affecting privacy and the intrusion of personal data, the Panaut also hurt access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), because there was the threat of suspension of the mobile line and disconnection if the holders of the lines were not registered.
The social consequences of not registering with the Panaut were crazy in the midst of the pandemic, because users use their telephone to communicate, exercise rights and carry out daily activities such as teleworking, studying, having access to health, receiving services or carrying out various procedures.
The merit of Adolfo Cuevas was triple. On the one hand, through the IFT, it summoned various civil society organizations (CSOs) to express their points of view against the Panaut. With this, he approached CSOs (something that the IFT almost never does), listened to their arguments and legitimized a decision that he was already preparing: the constitutional controversy.
In this same space, I informed him that the ideologue of including the biometric data of telephone users did not come from either the promoter of the initiative or the legislators who approved it, but from Commissioner Sóstenes Díaz, backed by four other IFT commissioners in a manner not institutional, except Adolfo Cuevas.
Finally, on May 26, the IFT Plenary, chaired by Cuevas, approved filing a constitutional controversy against the decree that obliges it to install, operate, regulate and maintain the Panaut. The IFT requested the suspension of the contested precepts to preserve the substantive discussion and avoid irreparable effects, such as having to allocate budget and money that is not available to implement the registry and collect the biometric data of the users.
It should be clarified that the Federal Executive filed a claim to the precautionary measure to suspend the Panaut and not affect the resources of the IFT. The First Chamber considered the arguments of the Executive Power unfounded and confirmed the suspension. It was another triumph for the regulator and a defense of its autonomy.
The IFT focused its legal strategy and argumentation on the impossibility of allocating resources for the implementation of the registry. It points out that the mandate “configures a direct impact on an institutional guarantee of this autonomous body provided for in the Constitution, which establishes that it is independent in its decisions and operation, exercises its budget autonomously and with a budget sufficiency that allows it to exercise effective and timely of their competences ”.
The IFT estimated the budgetary impact of operating the registry in 109.8 million Mexican pesos the first year and 88.5 million pesos the following. The strategy focused on the budgetary autonomy of the IFT worked and today the Panaut is suspended. The decision of the First Chamber is consistent and benefits almost 123 million mobile phone users who will not have to register, expose their privacy, personal and biometric data or risk losing their cell phone line.
The SCJN must resolve the merits of the matter: guarantee the fundamental rights contained in the sixth and seventh constitutional articles and guarantee users free access without arbitrary interference to telecommunications services. In this, which is substantive, society and autonomous constitutional bodies such as the IFT and the INAI can also help the ministers of the Supreme Court, because the Panaut will not pass.
President of the Mexican Association for the Right to Information (Amedi)
Media and telecommunications analyst and academic at UNAM. Study the media, new technologies, telecommunications, political communication and journalism. He is the author of the book The media presidentialism. Media and power during the government of Vicente Fox.