The tax office wants to offer an identity verification service using the personal data of the taxpayers.
MEXICO CITY (El Economista) – In the purest, Orwellian style, the SAT -tax administration service- will have a new source of income. The commercial exploitation of citizens’ private data.
Congress approved this within the so-called fiscal miscellany of 2021, the legal framework that determines citizens’ tax obligations. But it is a service born from an unconstitutional reform. Inai, the federal office for protecting personal data, is obliged to stop it and prevent it from taking effect.
The SAT (Tax Administration Service) intention is that individuals or public instances that wish to confirm the identity of a client or citizen can do so with highly specific elements. The personal biometric data (fingerprints, eye iris, and face geometry) in possession of that office, which depends on the Ministry of Finance.
Biometric data are unique and unrepeatable identifiers of each person. In many cases can be qualified as sensitive.
This new service is based on an amendment to Article 17-F of the Federal Fiscal Code that hurts fundamental rights, such as the right to protect personal data, and therefore, unconstitutional. Taxpayers submitted their biometric data to the SAT as an obligation to pay taxes, without the option to refuse or exercise the right to oppose the processing of their personal information. The design of a different treatment based on the commercial exploitation of such personal data sounds like extortion, is unfair, and lacking in responsibility.
The service would open the door to an indiscriminate and more intense treatment of personal data protected by SAT. It would create new risks for the protection and responsible handling of information susceptible to be used for identity theft and other crimes with a strong impact on the moral and patrimonial rights of taxpayers.
AMLO’s Government baptized as the “fourth transformation,” are interested in creating new lines of business, especially if they have at their disposal an “inventory” of 100 million fingerprints, 20 million irises, and 15 million faces of the taxpayers, according to the request for reform made by SAT to Congress.
In the “fourth transformation,” nothing is accidental: the reform that allows SAT to offer identity verification services has occurred almost at the same time that the legislative pyrotechnics of Morena, the party in power, has proposed to reform the population law to create an identification registry of each person linked to biometric data – face, fingerprint, iris, and voice, according to the proposal – and managed by the Ministry of the Interior.
In this logic, the new SAT service will serve as an input for the Government’s database, which failed to appropriate the personal information held by INE at the beginning of the year.
The reform for the identity registry contemplates the “interoperability of all (federal) agencies to technologically facilitate the transmission of (private) information and its traceability for the generation of a history.”
Another potential customer is the Government of Coahuila, which needs raw material for its video surveillance and control system with facial recognition: citizens’ faces.
The SAT does not have the authorization of the biometric data owners to give them the new treatment they want. If the SAT wants to undertake its new business vertical based on personal data, it must request the taxpayers’ consent. Its current privacy notice only allows it to use the information it holds to identify taxpayers in tax-related activities, keep the taxpayer registry updated, and generate statistics and collection reports.
The Inai must intervene. It has the power to file an unconstitutionality action before the Supreme Court. They should protect the personal data of Mexicans.
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