Who do we trust with our data?

Identity theft is becoming commonplace despite the technological perks that could help prevent it

English 02/08/2017 09:00 Mexico City Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 09:00
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The experience of waking up one day and finding that our debts have doubled overnight is certainly no cause to rejoice, least of all if it's someone else who is enjoying the benefits of the money owed. Cases such as these have increased around the country due to personal data traffic. Identity theft is becoming commonplace despite the technological perks that could help prevent this crime.

The activities of our everyday life, say, enrolling in a course or making a doctor's appointment, requires us to provide personal data, which are at risk of being used, through fraudulent means, to obtain more sensible information, such as our bank accounts and corresponding passwords. It's true that many times the ignorance or naivety of the victim play a key role, yet in many other situations, the main culprit is a governmental agency.

EL UNIVERSAL publishes two articles today which are an explanation of this problem by themselves. On one hand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported the loss of paperwork used to issue at least 200 passports. On the other, the Special Prosecutor's Office for Electoral Crimes acknowledged that from 2016 to date, there has been an increase by 45% in cases of identity theft, and that in several of them workers of the National Electoral Institute are involved, including their relatives.

The risk of documents falling into the hands of criminals is evident. Carelessness – or clear intent – on the part of public servants, which contributes to identity theft, needs to be fully investigated and authorities have the obligation of disclosing those results.

It's also worrying that the interest in protecting personal data is not shared by all. Last Wednesday expired the term to align State laws with the General Law on Personal Data Protection, and only 12 out of the 32 States of the Republic complied with this requirement. Even though this legislation states that should the State laws fail to homologate the General Law, the federal dispositions will automatically enter into force and effect. The fact that the law in question wasn't promoted at a local level proves the existing contempt around such a vital issue for the general public.

Although it's unlikely that identity theft will disappear in its entirety, it's important that – beginning with government agencies – there is a will to deal with this problem. If we minimize its importance, we are at risk of being overwhelmed, in the short term, by a phenomenon that could have been prevented on time.


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