Friday, January 17, 2014

México: Supreme Court Authorizes Warrantless Searches of Cell-Phone Data

According to The Latin American Tribune, Mexican prosecutors can now order cellphone companies to provide tracking data on suspects without a warrant, the High Court ruled on Thursday (January 16).

The justices voted 8-3 in favor of permitting warrantless real-time tracking of suspects’ movements in cases involving serious offenses such as kidnapping and homicide

Mexico’s independent National Human Rights Commission asked the high court to declare the practice unconstitutional.

With its approval, the high court ordered prosecutor’s offices to place a record of its requests for tracking data in the investigation file and file its requests only in cases of the utmost urgency.

The suspicion of the measure comes from the rights commission but also from civil organizations and other social sectors who are fearful of abuse of power by the authorities and the possible violation of the right to privacy of millions of Mexicans.

COMMENT: According to the commission, during 2011 there were 6,700 extortion attempts every 24 hours.

Thirty-one percent of the people involved paid the extortion, since the threats of alleged Zetas and La Familia Michoacana (both major drug cartels) were those that had the greatest impact on peoples’ lives, and, therefore, those that produce the most income for the criminals.

This report will be updated as new information concerning appeals of the ruling take place.

I share the same concern as do those critical of the ruling, given the high incidence of police corruption in México and the fact that a significant percentage of active police nationwide commit felonies on a regular basis.