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Mexican Government To Document Cell Phone Use 232

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'm-sure-criminals-will-oblige dept.
Alyssey writes "The Mexican government wants to have a database to track every cellphone number in the country (in Spanish, Google translation) and whom it belongs to. They want to tie in the CURP (Unique Registration Population Code in Spanish, like the Social Security Number in the US) with cellphone numbers. If Mexicans don't send in their number and CURP via SMS before April 10, 2010, their cellphone number will be blocked. The new law was published back in February and is going into effect now."
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Mexican Government To Document Cell Phone Use

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  • by gringofrijolero (1489395) on Tuesday April 14, 2009 @11:58PM (#27582125) Journal

    here where I live. I just pay them a hundred pesos to buy a chip for me. He'll be leaving town in a few months, and I got my phone. Repeat as needed. With a legitimate name and my phone is stolen, lots of luck defending yourself against false accusations here. Luckily the old system of "justice" is still in place. Una mordidita para las polis y ya.

  • Re:Prepaid phones. (Score:5, Informative)

    by snowtigger (204757) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @12:11AM (#27582223) Homepage

    When I bought a prepaid sim card in Switzerland last year, they wouldn't give it to me unless they got my passport information etc.

    In Australia, you need to call to activate your prepaid sim card. When you do, they ask for your name and address under the pretext that they need it for emergency services.

    I can't be bothered making up any in Soviet Russia jokes, but I'm sure someone else will :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @12:14AM (#27582235)

    I live in Mexico and I can tell you that one of the intentions of the law is to reduce the crimes that use cellphones to coordinate and execute (like kidnappings and drug deals).

    The problem with this is the implementation, the law clearly specifies that your cellphone provider must take an ID and your fingerprint, but the most popular provider Telcel lets you register sending a SMS with your name and birth date. Essentially rendering the registration useless.

  • by biggknifeparty (618904) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @12:26AM (#27582315)
    It's because of the kidnapping crisis. Cell phones are used to negotiate ransoms. This will just likely push criminals to move to VOIP out on stolen wifi connections.
  • Re:Prepaid phones. (Score:5, Informative)

    by photomonkey (987563) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @12:28AM (#27582321)

    Actually, they'll be fingerprinting [telegraph.co.uk] people.

  • Mexican here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tatisimo (1061320) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @12:54AM (#27582449)
    Prepaid phones are sold pretty cheaply to anyone with hardly any name needed for the transaction last time I checked. Note that I do not own a cell phone due to privacy concerns, and with this new law I am unlikely to get one.

    In my experience, there's several people who due to poverty or lack of concern are not registered with the relatively new CURP system. Thus I wonder, how will it affect those people? Will they shell out 20 pesos to pay some kid with internet access to get it for them, or will they stop using cell phones?

    I believe (and hope) this law will fail in epic proportions. Mainly due to Telcel, pretty much the only cellphone provider, losing too many costumers over it. Also, there seems to be much opposition: there are very few comments supporting the law on the article linked.

    Mexico does need a way to get rid of our infamy before the eyes of the world, a police state will only make us even worse. We don't need this kind of stupidity coming from our government, however corrupt it may be.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @12:58AM (#27582469)

      The problem is extorsion.

      This is a growing problem in Mexico.

      You get either a

      1. SMS that says that you won a prize. Most of the time you need to send another sms to another cell number where they tell you that you need to pay a deposit to get your prize. Or,

      2.- A call in which a person tells you that have kidnapped a relative of yours. They don't demand a lot of money. They just want to get some money because 99% of the time they haven't kidnapped anybody. They rely on getting you scared enough so you deposit some money before you can check if it was true.

      Most people know it's a scam, but still a lot of people fall for it.

      The thing is, most of the scammers come from inside prisons so this is an attempt to make it more difficult to get a stolen cellphone which is what the criminals usually use.

    - A mexican that has gotten those calls.

  • Re:Prepaid phones. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Reziac (43301) * on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @01:54AM (#27582757) Homepage Journal

    So what happens if you buy and activate a prepaid cellphone in the US or Guatemala, then use it in Mexico??

    Yeah, this will stop crime, all right.

  • Re:WOrse then Mexico (Score:1, Informative)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @02:27AM (#27582893)
    Only in the USA do they lock/tailor the phones to some sort of "plan".

    Not quite. there's at least one telco [three.com.au] here in Australia that locks their phones. Or they did before I acrimoniously parted ways with them a couple of years ago.
  • Re:WOrse then Mexico (Score:3, Informative)

    by totally bogus dude (1040246) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @02:57AM (#27583045)

    I think all the telcos here (Australia) lock the phone if you buy it through them. They will unlock it for a fee, and I think they're required to unlock it free of charge once your contract expires. This only applies if your new handset is part of the contract. Most let you buy the phone outright and that should come unlocked.

    Even so, if you buy a handset outright from a third party it'll come unlocked, and I've never heard of any of the telcos refusing a phone on their network which you didn't buy from them. I'm with 3 and bought a new phone to replace my N73 (the contract I got that on doesn't expire until September or so) - just put the SIM from my old phone in my new one and it works fine. Better in fact, since my new phone supports HSDPA. This phone isn't actually carried by 3 at all and I suppose is technically not supported by them as a result, but they don't do anything to prevent you using your own phone if you want to.

  • Re:Prepaid phones. (Score:5, Informative)

    by xtracto (837672) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @03:02AM (#27583071) Journal

    If I recall correctly you do not need any type of identification to get a prepaid telephone in Mexico. It is just a matter of going to your Telcel shop at the corner of the street (there are more of those than there are cantinas) and buy a chip with "100 pesos tiempo aire".

    Funny that they provide a link to the Milenio paper... I believe that "El Universal" ( which has the article here [eluniversal.com.mx]) is better.

    Now, for those very paranoid slashdotters, note that one of the reasons they are doing this is because given the lack of such identification records, mobile phones are heavily used in blackmailing.

    That happened to my brother once, he was studying in Mexico City and he got a call which went like this:
    After the phone rang and he answered a shouting voice said:

    "Hey we got your brother, and we will kill him unless you comply with our desires"

    After that, a voice in the background of the telephone shouted as if he was the "captured" brother "please please, help me, please don't leave me"

    In the "heat" of the moment, my brother shout my name "Pedro, are you ok?" [not my real name of course].

    Of course with that information the criminals continued with their tale, telling him that yes they had "Pedro" and they were going to hurt him blah blah...

    My brother just hung up the telephone and called my mother (who lives in another state)... Fortunately for us, I have been living *outside* Mexico for the last 5 years... therefore I could not have been trapped in Mexico City...

    My brother wrote me an email telling me to ask me to mail back just to be shure I was OK, I called him that afternoon from the UK where I was living then.

    There are countless of similar stories with such kind of social engineering. Of course not all the people are as "wise" as us, or they get blackmailed in the middle of some kind of crisis (money, family, etc) where the scenario of a kidnapped relative is very possible.

    The issue until now (that the database is started) is that even if you had a caller-id and a number, you could not do anything with it because it would not be registered, or it will be faked. The current registry will require both an valid id (Mexican voting credential which is the national id) and a fingerprint.

  • by spirtbrat (848317) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @03:25AM (#27583165)
    There already is a very similar thing in Bulgaria (and probably in other countries). Here, the cellphone providers, the ISPs and all traveling agencies must keep detailed records in electronic format and grant access to them for the authorities at any time, without any warning. It's basically a human rights violation, but it seems that no one affected gives a damn. Maybe it's because the non-tech people don't realize the threat.
  • Re:Prepaid phones. (Score:5, Informative)

    by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @05:03AM (#27583559) Journal

    Do you think those underground mercenary corps will just disband and they'll all get themselves decent legit jobs?

    Nope, but their income will be sharply reduced. It happened to the mafia in the USA when prohibition ended.

    -jcr

  • No Roaming (Score:2, Informative)

    by Velska1 (1435341) <velskasblog@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:54AM (#27584311) Journal

    So what happens if you buy and activate a prepaid cellphone in the US or Guatemala, then use it in Mexico??

    Simple: Your prepaid phone will work only as long as it has a connection with a carrier that has a roaming contract with yours. Many, if not most, prepaids don't work internationally unless you register them (often for a fee), because international calls are hard to charge on prepaids (at least, where receiving one is charged to your account). Sure, you can use a fake ID, but pretty soon that will be considered a premeditated action to conceal illegal/terrorist activity.

    Slam goes the door!

  • CURP is not like SSN (Score:4, Informative)

    by niktemadur (793971) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:39AM (#27584653)

    ...CURP (Unique Registration Population Code in Spanish, like the Social Security Number in the US) ...

    Not by a long shot. CURP consists of four sections:

    1. Four letter acronym - last name, mother's maiden name, first name and second name (or second letter from first name).
    2. Six digits indicating your birth date.
    3. Three letters indicating your state of birth.
    4. Three letters and three digits, seemingly random but actually a predictable tag, to differentiate you from others sharing the first three sections, all very similar.

    Many commercial apps in Mexico have the "CURP function" installed, you just type in the first three criteria, and out comes the full CURP. I believe even some legit Mexican websites provide this function. It's not intended to be secret and it's not tied in with your personal finances in any way.

    Little or nothing to see here, folks, move along.

  • Re:WOrse then Mexico (Score:3, Informative)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @11:16AM (#27586491) Homepage Journal
    "Even so, if you buy a handset outright from a third party it'll come unlocked, and I've never heard of any of the telcos refusing a phone on their network which you didn't buy from them. I'm with 3 and bought a new phone to replace my N73 (the contract I got that on doesn't expire until September or so) - just put the SIM from my old phone in my new one and it works fine. Better in fact, since my new phone supports HSDPA. This phone isn't actually carried by 3 at all and I suppose is technically not supported by them as a result, but they don't do anything to prevent you using your own phone if you want to."

    Not all phones and networks in the US have 'sim' cards. Only ATT and Tmobile I think, use phones that use 'sim' cards.

    I've been with Sprint all my cellphone life, and until a couple years ago, I'd never even heard of a sim card, or the ability to take phones from one network to another.

    I'd been very happy with Sprint till last few years. Their reception/signal has gotten abysmal, especially since I moved back to New Orleans proper (been living all around it for past 4 years). I guess they never quite recovered from Katrina maybe.

  • Re:Prepaid phones. (Score:2, Informative)

    by icebrain (944107) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @12:36PM (#27587529)

    Maryland, I take it? Move to the other side of the Potomac; Virginia's a lot friendlier about that.

    Per federal law, a resident buying a gun from, or transferring one through, a dealer requires a government-issued photo ID (driver's license, military ID, etc), an instant background check, and (I think) some proof of residency (usually satisfied by item 1). Non-residents are subject are also subject to the laws of their state of residence and to some additional federal requirements. If you posess a valid state-issued firearms license or carry permit meeting the background check requirements for a normal purchase, or you have a federal firearms license (FFL) as a dealer or collector, you are exempt from the instant check.

    Federal law does not prohibit the private sale of firearms between two residents of the same state, obstinately because that is not "interstate commerce" and therefore not subject to the federal background check requirement. Provided that both people are citizens of the same state and neither has reason to believe that the gun is stolen, that the other person is prohibited from owning guns, or that the gun is intended for use in a crime, it is legal under federal law. Individual states may also have their own restrictions; relatively free states (ie, the majority) do not, but others like California, Illinois, and several New England states require additional licensing and other restrictions.

    This, in a nutshell, is the origin of the media's so-called "gun show loophole". There is no clause or omission that says "you don't need to do background checks at gun shows"--the same law applies to sales there as anywhere else. Licensed dealers must perform background checks, whether at gun shows or their own shop. Private individuals or collectors do not, but they may only sell to residents of their own state (otherwise, the transfer must go through a dealer, and would be subject to the restrictions on dealers).

    Note that none of these requirements, even the super-strict laws of Chicago and DC, have ever stopped violent criminals from stealing a gun or buying one off the black market. These and other gun laws are simply inconveniences--mere words that the criminal violates as casually as he does those against murder, assault, rape, and drugs; they cause no more obstacle to his behavior than speed limits, age restrictions, and copyright laws do to drivers, college students, and music downloaders.

    Note also that the above does not apply to sales of NFA firearms--that is, machine guns, suppressors, and short-barreled rifles or shotguns. With those, regardless of who the buyer and seller are, the buyer must undergo the entire class III transfer process, including lengthy background check, law-enforcement signoff, and $200 transfer tax. This process can take several weeks, and is also subject to state law.

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