Mexican Mobile Phone Owners Fingerprinted

Dennis Faas's picture

If you are planning a trip to Mexico in the near future and forget your mobile phone at home, try to resist the urge to purchase a replacement (no matter how inexpensive the phone plans are over there!) The Mexican government has agreed to start a national register filled with the fingerprints and personal information of every new mobile phone owner in the country.

Why start a national register now?

A disturbing trend has emerged in which criminals are extorting money via kidnappings and using their mobile phones to text their demands for ransom. In Mexico, hundreds of people are kidnapped each year.

Analysts predict that the frequency of kidnappings will be on the rise as the increased number of rogue gangs look for new ways to make money.

The Mexican Congress predicts around 700 criminal bands exist in the country. Amazingly, some are even running these extortion operations while in jail. These people are able to receive ransom payments through the use of their cell phones. (Source:

No Identification, No Problem

Most of the 80 million mobile phones in Mexico are prepaid handsets with a select number of minutes that can be purchased in retail stores without the need for proper identification. These mobile phone users can purchase additional minutes as part of a bundle from vendors on the street.

According to the new law, mobile phone companies will have one year to establish a database of their clients, complete with fingerprints. The law will also require operators to store all cell phone information such as call logs, text and voice messages for at least one year. (Source:

Those concerned over privacy need not worry. Any information extracted will only resurface after court-approved motions for the purpose of tracking criminal behavior.

It's not yet known how the Mexican government will fund the creation of a national register, though the new law is expected to be enforced starting in April 2009.

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