Mexican mobile users to be fingerprinted in crime crackdown

Mobile phone users in Mexico are to be fingerprinted as part of a plan to crack down on crime.

Mobile phone users in Mexico are to be fingerprinted as part of a plan to crack down on crime.

Reuters reported that the Mexican government plans to start a national register of mobile phone users. It aims to catch kidnappers who conduct their business on mobiles.

As the army has cracked down on drug gangs, the criminals have switched tactics. Kidnap victims now run to hundreds a year, driven by an estimated 700 gangs, according to lawmakers behind the act.

A new law that will come into force in April gives mobile network operators a year to compile a database, including fingerprints, of their customers. The idea is to match calls and messages to the phones' owners.

Most phones in Mexico are pre-paid units. Until April, this guarantees anonymity to the user, making them hard for the authorities to track.

Network operators will have to store all mobile phone information such as call logs, text and voice messages, for a year. The information will only be used under a court order.

Carlos Slim, the world's third richest man, who owns Mexico's top mobile phone network, said the plan would be more useful if it allowed the authorities to track callers' location.

Legitimate users who lose or have their phones stolen will have to report the loss at once to avoid suspicion.

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