Mexico legislature passes Orwellian real-time surveillance bill

Across the globe, countries are engaged in a number of civil rights abuses by way of legislation: internet blockades (SOPA, ACTA), vast databases of user browsing (H.R. 1981), and real-time surveillance. Where these measures have been debated and passed, controversy has surely followed.

Add Mexico to the list.

Yesterday, the Mexican legislature passed a bill that gives police warrantless power to surveil in real-time. It passed with 315 votes in favor, 6 against, and 7 abstentions. This means that Mexican authorities will have real-time access to the location and activity of computer and smartphone users. The bill now heads to the Mexican president’s desk for final passage.

Mexican human rights lawyer Luis Fernando García told EFF, “Mexican policy makers must understand that the adoption of broad surveillance powers without adequate safeguards undermines the privacy and security of citizens, and is therefore incompatible with their human rights obligations.”

What EFF and García fail to note is that this legislation was probably passed as a curative in Mexico’s violent, Wild West-style war with drug cartels. This is no reason, of course, to give police the power to surveil anyone, anywhere at will, and without a warrant. As I’ve said time and again here at Death and Taxes, it’s not about the original intent of a law, but how it might be used and abused in the future.