Millions of Mexicans Refuse To Register Their Cell Phones

A plan to register every cell phone in Mexico into a centralized government database has been declared a disaster after millions of citizens banded together and refused to hand over their personal information. In a country that sees as many as 6,000 attempted extortion calls every day, the database was originally proposed as a way to crack down on organized crime, but it instead hit on another big public fear: turning over private data to a government widely considered corrupt. Mexico’s Federal Communications Commission says that 68 million cell phones have been registered into the National Mobile-Phone User Registry and that 17 million more are still unlisted. Of the registered phones, however, it’s tough to tell what data is real and what isn’t: One estimate suggests that more than a million entries have been faked, and, as of April, there were 5,200 phones registered to President Felipe Calderón alone. (Hundreds more have been registered to celebrities and public figures.) In the Mexican state of Aguascalientes, a congresswoman bragged that she had personally registered over a dozen phones, including several to drug kingpins and the country’s attorney general. Due to the total lack of control over the program, a government official told the Washington Post, “the mobile-phone registry is, from a security standpoint, completely useless.”

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