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Data Law Navigator | Mexico

Information on Data Protection and Cyber Security laws from CMS experts

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The content will be periodically updated by our lawyers but, given the constantly evolving laws in this area, we cannot guarantee the content is complete and accurate.
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Data Protection

Last updated March 2020

Risk scale

Risk Scale Orange

The Data Protection Legislation is based upon a strong legal framework. Although there are no requirements to notify the INAI in the event of a data breach, data subjects do need to be notified and the potential fines are substantial.

Laws 

The main data protection legislation is the Federal Law on the Protection of Personal Data held by Private Parties (the “Data Protection Law”) and its supplementary regulation (the “Data Protection Regulations”), together the “Data Protection Legislation”. The Data Protection Law came into force in July 2010 and the Data Protection Regulation came into force in December 2011. Other relevant legislation containing data protection provisions includes:

  • Articles 6 to 16 of the Mexican Constitution;
  • The Privacy Notice Guidelines, which govern the content of data privacy notices and obtaining consent for processing personal data;
  • The General Law for the Protection of Personal Data in Possession of Obligated Subjects governs personal data held by public bodies; and
  • The Federal Consumer Protection Law governs certain aspects concerning marketing activities.

Additionally, Mexico is a signatory of international agreements on Data Protection, like the Convention for the Protection of the People Regarding the Automated Treatment of Personal Information. Mexico is also a member or the Inter American Network of Data Protection.

Authority

The Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (Instituto Nacional de Acceso a la Información y Protección de Datos Personales or "INAI"), is responsible for overseeing the Data Protection Legislation. Its aim is to encourage access to all public information about the governmental activities, and budgets, as well as seeking the protection of personal data and the right to privacy.

The INAI, if requested by a data subject, may carry out an investigation to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Legislation of a specific undertaking and sanction those found to be in breach the Data Protection Legislation.

Anticipated changes to law

In February, a Mexican Senator submitted a bill proposing amendments to the Data Protection Law (the “DP Bill”).

The proposed changes included in the DP Bill would add an obligation on controllers to immediately inform the regulator of any security or privacy breaches involving personal data, whether by the controller or by a third-party processor of the controller. Under existing data protection legislation, controllers must inform only the data subject of breaches.

The regulator would also be able to carry out a verification procedure on receipt of a breach report.

There is no indication of when (or if) the DP Bill will be passed into law.

If applicable: stage of legislative implementation of GDPR

Does not apply to Mexico.

If applicable: local derogations as permitted by GDPR

Does not apply to Mexico.

Scope

The Data Protection Legislation applies to any person, legal entity or public body that processes personal data in the following circumstances:

  1. the data processing takes place in an establishment of a Data Controller located in Mexico;
  2. data processing is carried out by a Data Processor on behalf of a Data Controller established in Mexico, regardless of where the Data Processor is physically located;
  3. where the Data Controller is not located in Mexico, but to whom Mexican legislation and regulation applies to the Data Controller by virtue of a contractual obligation or international law; and
  4. the Data Controller is not established in Mexican territory but uses means to process personal data in such territory, unless such means are used only for transitory purposes (e.g. web pages which offer services or products in Mexico).

Penalties/Enforcement

The INAI has the has the authority to impose the following fines:

  • 100 to 160,000 units of measure* for:
    • Acting negligently or fraudulently in processing and responding to requests for personal data access, rectification, cancellation or objection;
    • Fraudulently declaring the inexistence of personal data where such exists in whole or in part in the databases of the Data Controller;
    • Processing personal data in violation of the principles established in the Law;
    • Omitting from the Privacy Notice any or all of the information it requires;
    • Maintaining inaccurate personal data when such action is attributable to the Data Controller, or failing to perform legally due rectifications or cancellations where the data subject’s rights are affected; and
    • Failure to comply with the notice warnings issued by the INAI.
  • 200 to 320,000 units of measure* for:
    • Breaching the duty of confidentiality set out in the Law;
    • Materially changing the original data processing purpose in contravention of the Law;
    • Transferring data to third parties without providing them with the Privacy Notice containing the limitations to which the data subject has conditioned data disclosure;
    • Compromising the security of databases, sites, programmes or equipment;
    • Carrying out the transfer or assignment of personal data outside of the cases where it is permitted under the Law;
    • Collecting or transferring personal data without the express consent of the data subject where required;
    • Obstructing verification actions of the INAI;
    • Collecting data in a deceptive and fraudulent manner;
    • Continuing with the illegitimate use of personal data when the INAI or the data subjects have requested such use be ended;
    • Processing personal data in a way that affects or impedes the exercise of the rights of access, rectification, cancellation and objection set;
    • Creating special data databases in violation of the Law. Any breach by the data controller of the obligations pertaining thereto as established in the provisions of this Law

In the event that the infractions mentioned in the preceding paragraphs persist, an additional fine of 100 to 320,000 units of measure* can be imposed.

Sanctions may be doubled for any of the above infractions committed in the treatment of sensitive data.

*1 unit of measure = $ 86.88 MXN (Mexican Pesos).

EUR 1.00 = 25.86 Mexican Pesos (2 April 2020)

Registration.notification

The Data Protection Legislation does not require prior notification or registration for any data processing activities.

Main obligations and processing requirements

The Data Protection Law recognize two parties who deal with personal data:

1.  Data Processors: the subject or legal entity that processes personal data on behalf of the Data Controller.

2.  Data Controller: the subject or legal entity that decides on the processing of personal data.

Their relationship must be established through contractual clauses or other legal instruments in a way that proves the existence, scope and nature of such relationship.

According to the Data Protection Legislation, the principles that must be observed by controllers and/or processors in the processing of personal data are the following:

1.  Legitimacy: Personal data must be collected and processed in a lawful manner.

2.  Consent: The data subject must give its consent for the processing of its personal data.

3.  Information: Through a Privacy Notice, the Data Controller must inform the data subject about the existence and the characteristics of their personal data processing.

4.  Quality: This principle is given when the personal data its provided directly by the data subject; if not, the Data Controller must take the measurements to meet the quality principle and adopt mechanisms that are considered necessary to ensure that the data is accurate, complete, updated and correct.

5.  Purpose: Personal data can only be processed for the purposes established in the Privacy Note.

6.  Loyalty: Personal data must be processed safeguarding the protection of the data subjects’ interests and the reasonable expectation of privacy.

7.  Responsibility: Data Controllers must ensure for the processing of personal data in their custody, as well as de data transferred to a Data Processor.

Additionally, the following legal requirements should be taken into account when processing personal data:

  1. Personal data must be collected and processed in a lawful manner in accordance with the provisions established by the Data Protection Legislation and other applicable regulations.
  2. Personal data must not be obtained through deceptive or fraudulent means.
  3. In all processing of personal data, it is presumed that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, understood as the trust any one person places in another for personal data provided to be treated pursuant to any agreement of the parties in the terms established by the Law.
  4. Personal data should not be kept for any longer than is necessary in order to comply with the purposes for which the personal data was originally held. Data Controllers must establish and document retention procedures, including deletion and/or blocking of personal data, taking the nature of the data into account

Data subject rights

All data subjects are entitled to exercise rights of access, rectification, cancellation and objection regarding their personal data (collectively known as ARCO rights). These rights are not mutually exclusive.

Right of Access

The data subject is entitled to access its personal data held by the Data Controller, as well as information regarding the conditions and generalities of the processing.

Right of Rectification

Data subjects may request, at any time, that Data Controllers rectify personal data if it is inaccurate or incomplete.

Right of Cancellation

Data subjects have the right to cancel (i.e. seek erasure of) its personal data. There are certain situations where Data Controllers have the right to object to such erasure (e.g. if required by applicable law or public interest).

Right of Objection

Data Subjects may, at any time, oppose the processing of their personal data for legitimate purposes.

Processing by third parties

According to the Data Protection Law, if the Data Controllers intend to transfer personal data to domestic or foreign third parties, it must provide them with a Privacy Notice and the purposes to which the data subject has limited data processing. The data subject must consent to such transfer via the Privacy Notice.

Consent is not required for domestic or international data transfers, where the transfer is:

  1. pursuant to a Law or Treaty to which Mexico is party;
  2. necessary for medical diagnosis or prevention, health care delivery, medical treatment or health services management;
  3. made to holding companies, subsidiaries or affiliates under common control of the Data Controller, or to a parent company or any company of the same group as the Data Controller, operating under the same internal processes and policies;
  4. necessary by virtue of a contract executed or to be executed in the interest of the data subject between the Data Controller and a third party;
  5. necessary or legally required to safeguard public interest or for the administration of justice;
  6. necessary for the recognition, exercise or defence of a right in a judicial proceeding; or
  7. necessary to maintain or fulfil a legal relationship between the Data Controller and the data subject.

Subcontracting

Data Processors must obtain permission from Data Controllers if subcontracting may involve the subcontractor processing personal data. Once consent is obtained, the Data Processor must enter into a contract with the subcontractor.

The subcontractor will assume the same obligations required for Data Processors under the Data Protection Legislation and other applicable law.

The Data Processor’s right to subcontract processing activities should be outlined in the contract between the Data Controller and Data Processor. If this right is not covered in that contract, the Data Processor must seek specific consent from the Data Controller in order to subcontract processing activities.

Transfers out of country

The Data Protection Legislation does not distinguish between domestic and international data transfers, therefore all the rules applicable to personal data transfers apply equally for national and international personal data transfers. 

International transfers of personal data between Data Controllers and Data Processors do not require any additional consent from data subjects, nor do data subjects need to be notified.

Data Controllers are permitted to contact the INAI for an opinion prior to carrying out international data transfers.

Data Protection Officer

Controllers must appoint a Data Protection Officer (or equivalent role) to deal with data subjects’ requests and promote data protection compliance within the controller’s organisation.

Security

Data Controllers and Data Processors are required to establish and maintain administrative and physical, security and, if applicable, technical measures for the protection of personal data.

In developing security measures, the data controller should take at least the following into account:

  1. the inherent risk given the type of personal data;
  2. the sensitivity of the personal data;
  3. technological developments;
  4. the potential consequences of a breach for data subjects;
  5. the number of data subjects;
  6. prior vulnerabilities in the processing systems;
  7. value of the data for an unauthorised third party; and
  8. other factors that may impact the level of risk or that result from other applicable laws and regulations.

The Regulation also sets out actions that Data Controllers can take in order to comply with the security requirements:

  1. prepare an inventory of personal data;
  2. determine the functions and obligations of the person(s) who will process personal data;
  3. conduct a risk analysis of personal data consisting of identifying dangers and estimating the risks;
  4. establish the necessary security measures;
  5. identify gaps between existing security measures and those required for each type of data and each processing system;
  6. prepare a work plan based on the gap analysis in (v) above;
  7. carry out revisions and/or audits;
  8. train personnel who process personal data; and
  9. keep a record of the methods of processing personal data.

Breach notification

There are no requirements for Data Controllers to notify the INAI in the event of a data breach (other than Data Controllers which are government entities). However, Data Controllers must notify data subjects if their personal data is subject to a breach with at least the following information:

  1. nature of the breach;
  2. the personal data compromised;
  3. recommendations of actions that may be taken by the data subject to protect its interests;
  4. immediate measures being taken by the data controller; and
  5. any means by which the individual can find further information regarding the matter.

Direct marketing

Personal data can be processed for advertising and marketing purposes in accordance with the Data Protection Legislation, provided that these purposes are made clear in the Privacy Notice and in any other medium required for communicating the processing purposes.

Cookies

When the Data Controller uses remote or local mechanisms for electronic, optical or other forms of technological communication which allow collection of personal data automatically and simultaneously to the time the data subject has contact with such communications mechanisms, the data subject must be informed about the use of these technologies, at the time the data subject makes contact with the technology and must be informed of the obtention of personal data as well as the way in which the cookies can be disabled.

Useful links

Federal Law on the Protection of Personal Data held by Private Parties and its supplementary regulation.


Cyber Security

Last updated March 2020

Risk scale

Risk Scale Red

Laws and regulations

There is currently no specific federal law regarding cybersecurity in force in Mexico.

Cybersecurity is regulated in the “Federal Criminal Code”, the “Data Protection Legislation” and other sector specific legislation applicable to entities operating within those sectors (e.g. the Fintech Law). Specific cybersecurity measures are normally regulated through tertiary regulatory instruments such as manuals, official operating parameters and guides.

Anticipated changes to law

A National Cybersecurity Strategy document was published in 2017, but since the change in government in December 2018, there has not been much progress in terms of actual regulation.

In February 2020, a Mexican Senator submitted a bill proposing amendments to the Data Protection Law (the “DP Bill”).

The DP Bill proposes implementing best practices with respect to cybersecurity but makes no specific recommendations.

Application 

There is no indication of when (or if) the DP Bill will be passed into law or if the National Cybersecurity Strategy will be progressed.

Authority

The first authority in charge of responding to any issue regarding cybersecurity is the National Guard (previously Federal Police, now formally though not materially fully integrated into the National Guard) and the Ministry of Public Security. Additional to this, there are other local authorities in some regions, such as the Police for the Prevention of Cybercrimes in Mexico City.

The INAI is responsible for overseeing data security breaches in general.

There are other authorities that could have jurisdiction regarding sector specific cybersecurity breaches e.g. the Mexican Securities and Exchange Commission or Mexico’s Central Bank in case of cybersecurity breaches in the banking and financial sector. 

Key obligations

Given there is no legislation specifically regulating cybersecurity, companies operating in sectors that do not have their own cybersecurity requirements are not subject to any particular obligations. Similarly, there is no obligation to report cyber incidents to the authorities. However, gaining access or trying to access a protected system is considered a crime in Mexico and therefore the offended party has the capacity to denounce the crime to Federal Prosecutors. 

With respect to personal data, under the Data Protection Legislation, every organization is obligated to implement corrective and preventive measures to improve security and avoid the violation personal data rights.

Penalties/enforcement

Even though there is no definition of “cybercrime”, the Federal Criminal Code sanctions several behaviours which can be identified as cybercrimes, such as hacking, phishing, infections of IT systems with malware, identity theft or fraud. These illegal behaviours can be punished with prison sentences and a range of fines, depending on the severity of the crime. 

Is there a national computer emergency response team (CERT) or computer security incident response team (CSIRT)?

The authority responsible for the prevention and response of any cybersecurity issue is the National Response Centre for Cyber Incidents of the Federal Police (now formally incorporated to the National Guard) or CERT-MX. This body is in charge of preventing and mitigating any threat to technological infrastructure and operability in Mexico. Additionally, the Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection is responsible for supervising compliance with legislation regarding personal data protection.

Is there a national incident management structure for responding to cybersecurity incidents?

The CERT-MX is responsible for dealing with any cybersecurity incidents, but only after a specific request, complain or demand. The Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection can also initiate investigations regarding the protection of personal data.

Other cyber security initiatives

In the private sector, the Mexican Association for Cybersecurity offers services and products regarding cybersecurity and data protection. It also encourages a culture for the protection of information and proper information handling. 

Useful links

 

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Authors

Cesar Armando Lechuga Perezanta
Partner
Mexico City
Adam Beach
Adam Beach
Associate
Mexico City
Juan Ramón Hernaiz