Examining Internet Freedom in Latin America: Mexico country report

Luis Fernando García and Vladimir Chorny, R3D: Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales

Mexico’s Constitution recognises the right of access to information and communication technologies (ICTs). However, the population has a low rate of access to the internet.

The law recognises net neutrality, including the principles of non-discrimination and free access. However, there is documentary evidence of practices that run contrary to these principles. The Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT – Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones) should issue guidelines on internet traffic management that enforce the legal obligation to protect net neutrality.

The Mexican authorities have augmented their technical and legal powers of surveillance of communications. The legislation does not clearly and precisely identify which authorities are empowered nor in what circumstances surveillance may take place. In some cases, the legislation does not recognise the requirement for judicial authorisation to carry out surveillance nor does it establish other safeguards against abuse.

There is documentary evidence that several authorities have acquired malicious software for surveillance purposes. Most of these authorities are not legally empowered to conduct surveillance of communications. Some authorities have been found to have used the malicious software against political opponents.

Widespread internet content blocking, filtering or regulation have not been reported in Mexico. However, the right to freedom of expression on the internet is under threat due to the context of violence, which is particularly serious against journalists. Similarly, some interpretations of the right to privacy of personal information have led to censorship of links to information of public interest about cases of corruption, and have proposed wide-ranging responsibilities for intermediaries.

Some legislative initiatives, for example, a bill to create a law on cyber crime, lack technical and legal rigour, and could criminalise legitimate uses of technology, which would affect the exercise of internet rights as well as the overall functioning of the internet.

This report was produced as part of the APC project Examining Internet Freedom in Latin America. The project is funded by the Open Society Institute (OSI) and APC and coordinated by Derechos Digitales.

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