Internet connectivity continues to expand in Mexico, driven by steady improvements to the country’s telecommunications infrastructure. The online environment remains a robust space for political mobilization, social discourse, and journalistic investigations. However, several threats remain to internet freedom in the country. Mexico continues to be one of the world’s deadliest countries for journalists, and online journalists are regularly targeted with harassment, threats, and physical violence, contributing to a climate of self-censorship. During the coverage period, evidence emerged that state actors, with probable links to the military, have continued to conduct illegal surveillance of journalists and human rights defenders. Additionally, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and his political allies have taken actions to undermine regulators, including those that oversee the telecommunications industry and enforce data protection standards, weaking the effectiveness and independence of these bodies.
Mexico has been an electoral democracy since 2000, and alternation in power between parties is routine at both the federal and state levels. However, the country suffers from severe rule of law deficits that limit full citizen enjoyment of political rights and civil liberties. Violence perpetrated by organized criminals, corruption among government officials, human rights abuses by both state and nonstate actors, and rampant impunity are among the most visible of Mexico’s many governance challenges.
- Government failure to appointment commissioners for several regulatory bodies—including the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT), the Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE), and the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information, and Personal Data Protection (INAI)—seriously weakened their ability to function as independent entities during the coverage period (see A5 and C6).
- An April 2023 legislative proposal to create a Federal Cybersecurity Law, which remains pending in the Chamber of Deputies, contained several potentially problematic provisions for content regulation, the criminalization of online expression, and user privacy (see B3, C2, and C5).
- Coordinated progovernment networks continued to manipulate online discussion in favor of President López Obrador and attack his political opponents, including on platforms that receive public funding (see B5).
- A series of journalistic investigations uncovered evidence that several individuals, including journalists, human rights defenders, and the undersecretary of human rights, had been surveilled using Pegasus spyware. Despite denials from President López Obrador, reporting established probable links that the Mexican military was responsible for this illegal surveillance (see C5).
- The threat of violence continued to seriously impede the ability of journalists to report online. During the coverage period, at least three journalists were killed in potential retaliation for their online reporting, though a motive has not been confirmed in any of the cases (see C7).
|Do infrastructural limitations restrict access to the internet or the speed and quality of internet connections?||5.005 6.006|
Internet connectivity and service quality continue to improve in Mexico.1 According to the latest data from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Mexico’s internet penetration rate stood at 76 percent in 2021.2 The National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) and IFT reported that there were 93.1 million internet users in the country as of 2022.3 The share of Mexicans with fixed-line internet subscriptions has increased over the past decade, growing from 9.94 percent in 2012 to 19.87 percent in December 2022.4
Mobile internet penetration has also increased steadily, with almost 120 million subscriptions reported by IFT in December 2022.5 Major mobile service providers are transitioning away from second-generation (2G) technology to repurpose spectrum for 4G technology.6 According to IFT, approximately 84 percent of all mobile internet traffic utilized 4G technology in December 2022, up from 72 percent at the end of 2018.7
The availability of 5G mobile network coverage has expanded in recent years, but obstacles to its expansion have included the high tax rate for 5G providers proposed by Congress, a lack of infrastructure, and the insufficient release of 5G frequencies in a 2021 industry tender.8 However, mobile service providers have continued to improve their 5G networks. By the end of 2022, 5G service was available from mobile provider AT&T in 31 cities and from América Móvil-owned Telcel in 100 cities.9 In December 2022, Movistar announced plans to operate a 5G network in 33 cities by March 2023.10 In July 2022, IFT launched Sensor 5G,11 a website that provides information about the deployment of 5G in Mexico.12
Speedtest recorded a median fixed-line download speed of 59.23 megabits per second (Mbps) in May 2023, placing Mexico 74th out of 181 countries surveyed. Mexico also placed 82nd out of 140 countries in its mobile survey, with a median mobile download speed of 26.20 Mbps.13
Telecommunications reforms introduced in 2013 were designed to substantially reshape the industry and increase internet access.14 Though some landmark initiatives introduced in the reform package have been discontinued by the López Obrador administration, the development of wholesale wireless network Red Compartida has continued (see A2).15 Altán Redes, the consortium in charge of the project, launched its operations in 2018 with the initial goal of reaching more than 92 percent of the population by January 2024, though this goal was later delayed to January 2028 due to the company’s financial difficulties.16 Altán Redes declared bankruptcy in November 2021 to restructure debt with its creditors,17 and announced that it had successfully exited commercial bankruptcy one year later, in November 2022.18 As of October 2022, Altán Redes had reached over 70.73 percent of the country’s population, providing coverage for 108,934 localities with under 5,000 inhabitants.19
- 1“Telecommunications in Mexico. Three Years After the Constitutional Reform,” Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT), June 2016, http://www.ift.org.mx/sites/default/files/contenidogeneral/unidad-de-co….
- 2Statistics: Percentage of Individuals using the Internet,” International Telecommunication Union, https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx.
- 3“Encuesta Nacional sobre Disponibilidad y Uso de Tecnologías de la Información en los Hogares (ENDUTIH) 2021. (Comunicado de prensa),” [National Survey on the Availability and Use of Information Technologies in Households (ENDUTIH) 2021. (Press release)], Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT) and Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), June 19, 2023, https://www.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/saladeprensa/boletines/2023/ENDUTIH….
- 4“Historical time series, fixed and mobile broadband penetration,” OECD Broadband Portal, December 2022, http://www.oecd.org/sti/broadband/broadband-statistics/.
- 5IFT, “Servicio Móvil de Acceso a Internet [Mobile Internet Access],” December 2022, https://bit.ift.org.mx/SASVisualAnalyticsViewer/VisualAnalyticsViewer_g….
- 6Nicolás Larocca, “México: Telefónica confirma que apagará 2G el primero de enero de 2021” [Mexico: Telefonica confirms it will switch off 2G on January 1st 2021], Telesemana, October 8, 2020, https://www.telesemana.com/blog/2020/10/08/telefonica-mexico-confirma-q…
- 7IFT, “Servicio Móvil de Acceso a Internet [Mobile Internet Access],” December 2022, https://bit.ift.org.mx/SASVisualAnalyticsViewer/VisualAnalyticsViewer_g….
- 8Nicolás Lucas, “¿Qué oportunidades y obstáculos presenta la licitación IFT-10 de espectro para servicios móviles?” [What are the opportunities and obstacles posed by the IFT-10 spectrum tender for mobile services?], El Economista, September 9, 2020, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/empresas/Que-oportunidades-y-obstaculos…; Cámara Nacional de la Industria Electrónica, de Telecomunicaciones y Tecnologías de la Información, “Comentario en Consulta Pública de Integración acerca del cuestionario sobre Bandas de Frecuencias del Espectro Radioeléctrico para Sistemas Móviles de Quinta Generación (5G)” [Comment in the Public Consultation on Radioelectric spectrum bandwidths for fifth generation mobile systems (5G)], Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, October 21, 2019, http://www.ift.org.mx/sites/default/files/industria/temasrelevantes/con…
- 9Jorge Bravo, “Telcel cubre 100 ciudades con 5G a un año de su lanzamiento [Telcel covers 100 cities with 5G one year after its launching]”, DPL News, February 24, 2023, https://dplnews.com/mexico-telcel-cubre-100-ciudades-con-5g-a-un-ano-de…; El Economista, “México cierra el año con 31 ciudades conectadas a 5G [Mexico closes the year with 31 cities connected to 5G],” December 8, 2022, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/empresas/Mexico-cierra-el-ano-con-31-ci….
- 10Nicolás Lucas, “Movistar busca acelerar su red 5G en México con 33 ciudades para marzo de 2023” [Movistar seeks to accelerate its 5G network in Mexico with 33 cities by March 2023], El Economista, December 15, 2022, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/empresas/Movistar-busca-acelerar-su-red….
- 11See https://sensor5g.ift.org.mx/.
- 12IFT, “El IFT presenta su micrositio web interactivo Sensor 5G (Comunicado 65/2022) 13 de julio [The IFT presents its interactive microsite Sensor 5G (Communiqué 65/2022) July 13],” July 13, 2022, https://www.ift.org.mx/comunicacion-y-medios/comunicados-ift/es/el-ift-….
- 13Speedtest, “Mexico's Mobile and Fixed Broadband Internet Speeds,” accessed June 2023, https://web.archive.org/web/20230619120619/https://www.speedtest.net/gl….
- 14“Resolución mediante la cual el pleno del Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones modifica el título de concesión para usar, aprovechar y explotar bandas de frecuencias del espectro radioeléctrico para uso comercial, otorgado al organismo promotor de inversiones en telecomunicaciones y el título de concesión para uso comercial, con carácter de red compartida mayorista de servicios de telecomunicaciones otorgado a Altán Redes, S.A.P.I. de C.V.” [Resolution through which the IFT plenary modifies the concession contract to use and exploit radioelectrical spectrum bandwidths for comercial use, granted to the government body that promotes telecommunications investments, and the concession contract for the comercial use of a wholesale shared network, granted to Altán Redes, S.A.P.I. de C.V.], Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, November 13, 2019, http://www.ift.org.mx/sites/default/files/conocenos/pleno/sesiones/acue….
- 15“Resolución mediante la cual el pleno del Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones modifica el título de concesión para usar, aprovechar y explotar bandas de frecuencias del espectro radioeléctrico para uso comercial, otorgado al organismo promotor de inversiones en telecomunicaciones y el título de concesión para uso comercial, con carácter de red compartida mayorista de servicios de telecomunicaciones otorgado a Altán Redes, S.A.P.I. de C.V.” [Resolution through which the IFT plenary modifies the concession contract to use and exploit radioelectrical spectrum bandwidths for comercial use, granted to the government body that promotes telecommunications investments, and the concession contract for the comercial use of a wholesale shared network, granted to Altán Redes, S.A.P.I. de C.V.], Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, November 13, 2019, http://www.ift.org.mx/sites/default/files/conocenos/pleno/sesiones/acue….
- 16“Altán la Red Compartida, a través de sus Operadores Móviles Virtuales, ofrece conectividad 4.5G LTE a 2 millones de usuarios finales” [Red Compartida, through its Virtual Mobile Operators, offers 4.5G LTE connectivity to 2 million final users], Altán Redes, March 1, 2021, https://www.altanredes.com/operadores-moviles-virtuales/.
- 17“Altán Redes entra a concurso mercantil [Altán Redes enters into insolvency proceedings],” Expansión, November 16, 2021, https://expansion.mx/empresas/2021/11/16/altan-redes-entra-a-concurso-m…
- 18Altán Redes concluye con éxito el proceso de Concurso Mercantil [Altán Redes successfully completes the insolvency process],” Altán Redes, November 3, 2022, https://www.altanredes.com/altan-redes-exito-concurso-mercantil/.
- 19“Altán Redes concluye con éxito el proceso de Concurso Mercantil [Altán Redes successfully completes the insolvency process],” Altán Redes, November 3, 2022, https://www.altanredes.com/altan-redes-exito-concurso-mercantil/
|Is access to the internet prohibitively expensive or beyond the reach of certain segments of the population for geographical, social, or other reasons?||1.001 3.003|
Despite growing internet penetration, the urban-rural digital divide remains significant: in 2022, 83.8 percent of the urban population used the internet, compared to only 62.3 percent of the rural population.1 A 2022 national survey estimated that almost 10 million individuals in rural areas do not have mobile phones, more than 40 percent of them for financial reasons, and that over 2.3 million rural residents may not have internet connectivity through their mobile devices.2
Prohibitively high costs have kept 52.9 percent of lower-income Mexicans from accessing the internet, according to the results of a 2022 survey.3 As of 2021, INEGI reported that 34 percent of households in the lowest socioeconomic category have access to the internet, compared to more than 90 percent of households in the highest socioeconomic category.4 Though average prices for mobile data packages have dropped significantly in recent years, they remain more expensive than most countries in Latin America. According to the British company Cable, the average cost of 1 gigabyte (GB) of mobile data was $2.89 in 2022, a steep decline from the average cost of $15.05 in 2019.5 Cable found Mexico’s average monthly cost of fixed-line broadband, $31.05 in 2023, to be relatively affordable when compared with other Latin American countries.6
Indigenous communities, who represent almost 10 percent of the country’s population, also face a digital divide in mobile coverage. In August 2022, IFT reported that 80 percent of the Indigenous population is covered by 2G, 3G, or 4G technology; however, this number drops to 62 percent in localities classified as historical Indigenous settlements.7 Major providers’ recent efforts to switch off 2G and repurpose its spectrum for 4G technology may disproportionately impact these communities (see A1). Network providers that serve Indigenous communities continue to operate with 2G technology, however.8
Civil society responses to internet access challenges have flourished in Indigenous communities. In October 2022, Tosepan Titataniske, an Indigenous cooperative from the northern highlands of the Puebla state, launched the Wiki Katat service, providing affordable mobile telephone and internet services using the Altán Redes network.9
Telecommunications providers have continued to invest in efforts to reduce the digital divide. In November 2022, Spanish telecommunications operator Hispasat and network provider Sencinet agreed to extend a contract to continue providing satellite broadband services in rural areas of Mexico through the end of 2024.10 Previously, in April 2022, Hispasat also signed an agreement with the government connectivity program, Federal Electricity Commission Telecommunications and Internet for Everyone (CFE TEIT), to provide mobile telephone and internet services in schools, healthcare facilities, and public areas in more than 60 remote communities.11
In early 2023, satellite company Globalsat announced that it would partner with Starlink to provide free internet services at 1,100 access points in remote areas in Mexico as part of a contract awarded by CFE TEIT.12 The arrangement, which is valid until December 2024, is expected to benefit 550,000 people.
In Mexico, service providers such as Telcel, Movistar, and AT&T offer zero-rating plans in which certain digital services like HBO, Netflix, WhatsApp, and social networking sites do not count toward a customer’s data allowance.13 Pricing practices like zero-rating plans limit the diversity of content that users with limited financial means can access and have not been shown to reduce digital divides.14
- 1“Encuesta Nacional sobre Disponibilidad y Uso de Tecnologías de la Información en los Hogares (ENDUTIH) 2022. (Comunicado de prensa) [National Survey on the Availability and Use of Information Technologies in Households (ENDUTIH) 2022. (Press release)],” Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT) and Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), June 19, 2023, https://www.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/saladeprensa/boletines/2023/ENDUTIH…
- 2Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), “Población que no dispone de telefonía celular en áreas urbano rural, según principales razones” [Population without mobile telephony in urban and rural areas, according to primary motivations], Encuesta Nacional sobre Disponibilidad y Uso de Tecnologías de la Información en los Hogares (ENDUTIH) 2022 [National Survey on the Availability and Use of Information Technologies in Households (ENDUTIH) 2022], accessed June 20, 2023, https://www.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/programas/dutih/2022/tabulados/2022…; Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), “Usuarios de teléfono celular inteligente con conexión móvil a internet, en áreas urbano rural, según condición, 2022 [Smartphone users with internet access, in urban and rural areas, by their status, 2022],” Encuesta Nacional sobre Disponibilidad y Uso de Tecnologías de la Información en los Hogares (ENDUTIH) 2022 [National Survey on the Availability and Use of Information Technologies in Households (ENDUTIH) 2021], accessed June 20, 2023, https://www.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/programas/dutih/2022/tabulados/2022….
- 3“Hogares que disponen de computadora que no cuentan con conexión a Internet, por estrato socioeconómico, según principales razones, 2022 [Households that have computers but no Internet connection, by income level, according to primary reasons, 2022],” Encuesta Nacional sobre Disponibilidad y Uso de Tecnologías de la Información en los Hogares (ENDUTIH) 2022 [National Survey on the Availability and Use of Information Technologies in Households (ENDUTIH) 2021], accessed June 20, 2023, https://www.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/programas/dutih/2022/tabulados/2022….
- 4INEGI, “Estadísticas a propósito del Día Mundial del Internet (17 de Mayo) [Statistics about World Internet Day (May 17)],” May 15, 2023, https://en.www.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/saladeprensa/aproposito/2023/EAP….
- 5Cable.co.uk, “Worldwide mobile data pricing 2022: The cost of 1GB of mobile data in 233 countries,” https://www.cable.co.uk/mobiles/worldwide-data-pricing/
- 6Cable.co.uk., “Global broadband pricing league table 2023,” https://www.cable.co.uk/broadband/pricing/worldwide-comparison/
- 7”En México, el 80 por ciento de la población indígena cuenta con cobertura de servicio móvil en al menos una tecnología [In Mexico, 80 percent of the indigenous population has mobile service coverage in at least one technology],” Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, August 9, 2022, https://www.ift.org.mx/comunicacion-y-medios/comunicados-ift/es/en-mexi….
- 8Nicolás Lucas, “Telecomunicaciones Indígenas Comunitarias gana espectro que será pilar de su red 4G” [Telecomunicaciones Indígenas Comunitarias wins bid over spectrum that will be a pillar for its 4G network], El Economista, November 30, 2020, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/empresas/Telecomunicaciones-Indigenas-C…; REDES A.C., Association for Progressive Communications, “Las redes comunitarias ante el COVID-19 en Latinoamérica” [Community networks on the face of COVID-19 in Latin America], Comunicares, May 28, 2020, https://comunicares.org/2020/05/28/redes-comunitarias-covid/.
- 9José Soto Galindo, “Wiki Katat: telefonía e internet en náhuat y totonaco [Wiki Katat: telephony and Internet in Nahuat and Totonac]”, El Economista, October 8, 2022, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/politica/Wiki-Katat-telefonia-e-interne…
- 10“HISPASAT and SENCINET expand their collaboration to extend satellite broadband access in Mexico”, HISPASAT, November 10, 2022, https://www.hispasat.com/en/press-room/press-releases/archivo-2022/453/…
- 11“HISPASAT and the Mexican communications agency CFE TEIT collaborate to connect the unconnected,” HISPASAT, April 28, 2022, https://www.hispasat.com/en/press-room/press-releases/archivo-2022/444/….
- 12Ana Luisa Gutiérrez, “Starlink de Elon Musk se alía con Globalsat para atender contrato de CFE Telecom”, Expansión, February 14, 2023, https://expansion.mx/empresas/2023/02/14/starlink-de-elon-musk-se-alia-…
- 13“Se profundizan ofertas de zero rating en México; el IFT sigue en silencio” [Zero Rating Offers Are Deepened In Mexico; The IFT Is Still Silent], Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, May 17, 2017, https://r3d.mx/2017/05/16/se-profundizan-ofertas-de-zero-rating-en-mexi…; Antonio Cahun, “Telcel reacciona a la competencia y trae de vuelta las redes sociales ilimitadas a sus planes Max Sin Límite,” Xataka, May 16, 2017, https://www.xataka.com.mx/telecomunicaciones/telcel-reacciona-a-la-comp….
- 14“Las prácticas de zero rating no ayudan a cerrar la brecha digital: la profundizan [Zero rating practices do not help to close the digital divide: they deepen it]”, Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, November 28, 2022, https://r3d.mx/2022/11/28/las-practicas-de-zero-rating-no-ayudan-a-cerr…
|Does the government exercise technical or legal control over internet infrastructure for the purposes of restricting connectivity?||6.006 6.006|
There were no reports of government-imposed restrictions on connectivity during the coverage period. Under IFT’s Traffic Management and Internet Administration Guidelines, which took effect in September 2021, government-mandated internet shutdowns or disruptions, as well as disruptions to mobile apps, are not permissible.1 Article 190 of the 2014 Telecommunications Law, however, authorizes the “appropriate authority” within the government to request the suspension of telephone service to “halt the commission of crimes.”2
Although most of Mexico’s information and communication technology (ICT) backbone infrastructure is privately owned, the state-owned company Telecomunicaciones de México (Telecomm) plays an important role, having taken over fiber-optic infrastructure from the Federal Electricity Commission at the end of 2014.3 Mexico’s first internet exchange point (IXP) was set up by KIO Networks in April 2014. The IXP increases efficiency and reduces costs for Mexican internet service providers (ISPs) by helping to manage traffic across networks.4 In 2018, the Ministry of Communications and Transport and the Yucatán state government signed an agreement to build Mexico’s second IXP;5 it began operating in February 2021,6 following a local government transition and an extensive community-building and training process.7
- 1“Mexican Federal Institute of Communications approves guidelines jeopardizing net neutrality,” Access Now, July 12, 2021, https://www.accessnow.org/mexico-guidelines-jeopardize-net-neutrality/
- 2“Artículo 189-190 de Ley Federal de Telecomunicaciones y Radiodifusión” [Article 189-190 of the Federal Law of Telecommunications and Broadcasting], Diario Oficial de la Federación, July 14, 2014, http://www.dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5352323&fecha=14/07/2014.
- 3Leonardo Peralta, “Telecomm venderá conectividad de fibra óptica en 2015” [Telecomm will sell fiber optic connectivity in 2015], Expansión, December 11, 2014, https://expansion.mx/tecnologia/2014/12/10/telecomm-vendera-conectivida….
- 4Julio Sánchez Onofre, “Primer IXP en Mexico, una realidad” [First IXP in Mexico, a reality], El Economista, April 30, 2014, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/tecnologia/Primer-IXP-en-Mexico-una-rea…; “Inauguración del primer IXP mexicano” [Inauguration of the first IXP] June 11, 2018, http://ixp.mx/mea-utamur-fierent-interesset-et-duo-tritani-aperiri-ei/.
- 5“IXP, el conmutador invisible” [IXP, the invisible switch], IDET, May 22, 2018, https://www.idet.org.mx/consumidores/ixp-el-conmutador-invisible/.
- 6“Internet, clave para desarrollar al estado” [Internet, key to state development], Diario de Yucatán, March 15, 2021, https://www.yucatan.com.mx/merida/internet-clave-para-desarrollar-al-es… .
- 7Israel Rosas, “In Yucatán, Mexico, IXSY Gets Its Watershed Moment,” Internet Society, March 25, 2021, https://www.internetsociety.org/blog/2021/03/in-yucatan-mexico-ixsy-get….
|Are there legal, regulatory, or economic obstacles that restrict the diversity of service providers?||4.004 6.006|
Reforms over the past decade have sought to improve the ICT market by reducing market dominance and barriers to investment.
Under 2013 constitutional amendments, telecommunications companies that control more than 50 percent of the market are subject to antitrust regulations.1 IFT has moved to restrain the country’s dominant telecommunications companies in the recent past, including with a December 2020 resolution that imposed new financial restrictions on a leading company, América Móvil, that limited how much it could charge users for unlocking devices and out-of-network roaming, as well as the end of promotional prices.2 New customers are offered services provided via Red Compartida in order to spur competition.3
However, the ICT market remains dominated by a few players. In the fourth quarter of 2022, the mobile internet service provider with the largest market share was América Móvil (65.95 percent), followed by AT&T (17.13 percent) and Telefónica-owned Movistar (8.29 percent).4 In the most recent annual report from IFT, published in December 2022, América Móvil also led the fixed-line broadband market (40.84 percent), followed by Grupo Televisa (25.86 percent), Megacable MCM (14.71 percent), and Grupo Salinas (14.59 percent).5
- 1Alejandro Madrazo, “Telecommunications: Mexico's New Reform,” Americas Quarterly, Summer 2013, https://www.americasquarterly.org/content/telecommunications-mexicos-ne….
- 2Cassandra Garrison, “UPDATE 3-Mexico beefs up telecom rules; Slim's America Movil bristles,” Reuters, December 8, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/america-movil-regulator/update-3-mexico…
- 3Carla Martínez, “GurúComm ofrece internet barato con Red Compartida” [GurúComm offered cheap internet with Red Compartida], El Universal, August 28, 2018, https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/cartera/gurucomm-ofrece-internet-barato-…; Liliana Corona, “Internet ON, la empresa que ya aprovecha la Red Compartida,” Expansión, March 1, 2019, https://expansion.mx/empresas/2019/03/01/internet-on-la-empresa-que-ya-….
- 4IFT, “Servicio Móvil de Acceso a Internet [Mobile Internet Access],” December 2022, https://bit.ift.org.mx/SASVisualAnalyticsViewer/VisualAnalyticsViewer_g….
- 5IFT, “Anuario Estadístico 2022 [Statistical Yearbook 2022]”, p. 25, December 19, 2022, https://www.ift.org.mx/sites/default/files/contenidogeneral/estadistica….
|Do national regulatory bodies that oversee service providers and digital technology fail to operate in a free, fair, and independent manner?||2.002 4.004|
As part of the 2013 constitutional reform, the government established IFT as a new autonomous regulatory agency to increase the transparency of media regulation.1 IFT has the legal mandate to act as an antitrust body and protect the industry from monopolistic practices. The Federal Economic Competition Commission (COFECE) is another regulatory body that, in 2021, was recognized by the Federal Judiciary (PJF) as the competent authority to regulate the markets for online search engines, social networking, and cloud computing services.2
However, under López Obrador, IFT and other independent bodies have become regular targets of government pressure that has included sizable budget reductions.3 López Obrador’s administration has also hindered regulatory bodies with bureaucratic delays. After the president declined to fill vacancies on the boards of IFT and COFECE in recent years, leaving them both without a functioning plenary, the bodies appealed to the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN).4 In November 2022, the SCJN ruled in favor of COFECE and ordered the executive branch to appoint commissioners;5 López Obrador complied by appointing three new commissioners.6 The IFT’s case remained pending by the end of the coverage period, and civil society organizations have demanded a prompt response from the SCJN.7 The president’s failure to name commissioners to the autonomous bodies has been considered detrimental to the institutions' independence and ability to function properly.8
Previously, a 2020 government proposal to merge IFT with two other regulators was indefinitely postponed after it was condemned by civil society for threatening the regulator’s independence.9 In January 2021, President López Obrador announced a planned reform to incorporate IFT and the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information, and Personal Data Protection (INAI) into the federal government, removing their autonomy.10 Though the president later decided against dissolving IFT, instead delaying any action until the next administration,11 he reiterated his support for disbanding INAI in April 2023 (see C6).12
Despite receiving some criticism in recent years for its decisions on antitrust measures and draft net neutrality guidelines,13 IFT has continued to reaffirm its independence. In May 2021, for instance, IFT challenged the creation of a biometric cell phone registry—one that Congress had directed the agency to create, operate, and maintain—as unconstitutional (see C4).14
From 2019 to 2021, IFT was criticized for its Traffic Management and Internet Administration Guidelines, which civil society actors claimed were an attempt to undermined net neutrality in Mexico (see B6).15 New guidelines went into effect in September 2021.16 In 2017, IFT was also criticized for authorizing América Móvil’s Telcel to exploit 60 megahertz of the 2.5 gigahertz spectrum band.17 Associations including the Telecommunications Law Institute (IDET) and the Competitive Intelligence Unit (CIU) argued that this move in fact reinforced the dominant player, contradicting IFT’s mandate to guarantee competition and equal conditions for all agents in the sector.18
- 1Juan Montes, “Mexico Telecoms Reform Bill Advances,” The Wall Street Journal, March 22, 2013, http://on.wsj.com/1LXSc6E
- 2“El Poder Judicial de la Federación resuelve que la COFECE es la autoridad competente para conocer de los mercados de servicios de búsqueda en línea, redes sociales y de cómputo en la nube [The Federal Judiciary ruled that COFECE is the competent authority to review the markets for online search services, social networks and cloud computing],” COFECE, June 18, 2021, https://www.cofece.mx/el-poder-judicial-de-la-federacion-resuelve-que-l…
- 3Yared de la Rosa, “En 3 años, gobierno redujo presupuesto de Inai, IFT, Cofece, CNH y CRE hasta 77% [In 3 years, the government reduced the budget of Inai, IFT, Cofece, CNH and CRE to 77%],” Forbes México, January 11, 2021, https://www.forbes.com.mx/politica-3-anos-gobierno-presupuesto-inai-ift….
- 4Jorge Monroy, "Cofece acude a la SCJN para destrabar nombramientos [Cofece goes to the SCJN to unblock appointments]”, El Economista, December 10, 2021, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/empresas/La-Cofece-presenta-controversi…; “El IFT interpone controversia contra el Ejecutivo por falta de comisionados [The IFT files a controversy against the Executive for lack of commissioners],” Expansion, August 22, 2022, https://expansion.mx/empresas/2022/08/22/el-ift-interpone-controversia-….
- 5Rolando Rmos, “Dan 30 días naturales a AMLO para que envíe candidatos a la Cofece [AMLO given 30 calendar days to send candidates to Cofece]”, El Economista, November 28, 2022, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/politica/SCJN-da-a-Lopez-Obrador-plazo-…
- 6“AMLO envía al Senado su propuesta para comisionada de la Cofece tras orden de la Suprema Corte [AMLO sends his proposal for Cofece commissioner to the Senate after order of the Supreme Court],” Latinus, December 6, 2022, https://latinus.us/2022/12/06/amlo-envia-senado-propuesta-comisionada-c…; COFECE, “Rodrigo Alcázar Silva y Giovanni Tapia Lezama, nuevos comisionados de la Cofece [Rodrigo Alcázar Silva and Giovanni Tapia Lezama, new commissioners of Cofece],” February 2, 2023, https://www.cofece.mx/rodrigo-alcazar-silva-y-giovanni-tapia-lezama-nue….
- 7“Observatel pide a SCJN resolver recurso del IFT para asignación de comisionadas [Observatel asks SCJN to resolve the IFT's appeal for the assignment of commissioners]”, Expansión, January 25, 2023, https://expansion.mx/empresas/2023/01/25/observatel-pide-a-scjn-resolve…
- 8Carlos Mena, “Sobre el nombramiento de comisionados en Cofece e IFT [On the appointment of commissioners at Cofece and IFT]”, El Financiero, December 7, 2022, https://www.elfinanciero.com.mx/opinion/carlos-mena/2022/12/07/sobre-el…
- 11“AMLO deja a la próxima administración la ‘tarea pendiente’ de eliminar al IFT [AMLO leaves the ‘pending task’ of eliminating the IFT to the next administration],” Expansión, March 6, 2023, https://expansion.mx/empresas/2023/03/06/amlo-deja-tarea-pendiente-de-e….
- 12Anthony Esposito and Raul Cortes Fernandez, “Mexican president backs plan to ditch transparency institute,” Reuters, April 28, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexican-president-backs-plan-dit….
- 13Miriam Posada, “SCJN admite incorformidad de Televisa sobre resolución de IFT” [SCJN admits Televisa disagreement over IFT resolution], La Jornada, February 20, 2018, https://www.jornada.com.mx/ultimas/economia/2018/02/20/scjn-admite-inco….
- 14“Ente de Telecomunicaciones presenta recurso contra padrón de datos en México” [Telecommunications body appeals against biometric database in Mexico], EFE Noticias, May 27, 2021, https://www.efe.com/efe/america/mexico/ente-de-telecomunicaciones-prese….
- 15See Salvemos Internet [Let’s Save The Internet], https://salvemosinternet.mx.
- 16“En septiembre entran en vigor nuevas disposiciones de acceso a internet [New internet access rules go into effect in September]”, Expansión, September 1, 2021, https://expansion.mx/tecnologia/2021/09/01/en-septiembre-entran-en-vigo…
- 17Carla Martinez, “Espectro autorizado a Telcel no afecta la competencia: IFT” [Telcel authorized spectrum does not affect competition: IFT], El Universal, May 4 2017, https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/articulo/cartera/telecom/2017/05/4/espec….
- 18Ernesto Piedras, "Empoderando más al preponderante" [Empowering the preponderant more], El Economista, May 10, 2017, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/opinion/Empoderando-mas-al-preponderant….
|Does the state block or filter, or compel service providers to block or filter, internet content, particularly material that is protected by international human rights standards?||6.006 6.006|
There has been no documented evidence that the government or other actors block or filter internet content. Social networking sites and international blog-hosting services are available in Mexico.
|Do state or nonstate actors employ legal, administrative, or other means to force publishers, content hosts, or digital platforms to delete content, particularly material that is protected by international human rights standards?||2.002 4.004|
State and nonstate actors have increasingly used legal threats and other methods to pressure social media platforms, web-hosting providers, and individual users to remove content in recent years. The full scope and nature of government requests to remove content remains unknown, as the government underreports its requests. In a 2021 report, Article 19 estimated that only 14 percent of government removal requests reported by social media platforms on their transparency reports have been declared by various government offices through freedom of information (FOIA) requests.1
Attempts to remove content frequently target journalistic information posted online. Article 19 recorded 12 removals of journalistic content in 2022.2
In April 2023, Supreme Court Judge Yasmín Esquivel Mossa filed a complaint against journalist Lourdes Mendoza, who had tweeted photos of Mossa vacationing in Canada accompanied by critical comments about the judge. Mossa asked a court to order the removal of the photos and the deletion of Mendoza’s Twitter account, on the grounds that her minor son appears in one of them and the comments allegedly “incite hatred.” The court ultimately ordered Mendoza and other journalists to remove or blur the photos to protect the identity of Mossa’s son, but did not force Mendoza to delete her account.3
In April 2022, during the previous coverage period, a Yucatán judge ordered six online outlets to remove their reporting on alleged corruption by a former government official and the related revocation of her pension. The order gave the outlets 24 hours to comply, and threatened sanctions outlined in Article 104 of the criminal code, which allows for fines and arrests of up to 36 hours, for noncompliance.4
Powerful actors have successfully had content removed by claiming it violates privacy regulations and the Federal Copyright Law (see B3). In February 2022, Rest of World reported on the activities of Spanish reputation management company Eliminalia in Mexico, where the firm launched in 2015. Eliminalia has been found to use false copyright claims and legal notices to get online content taken down on behalf of its powerful clients, including businesspeople and politically connected individuals in Mexico. Of a list of 17,000 URLs that were reportedly targeted for removal on clients’ behalf between 2015 and 2019, more than 2,000 were identified for removal by clients based in Mexico.5
In one case, Eliminalia reportedly used dubious legal notices to force Mexican journalist Daniel Sánchez to remove a 2018 story he published in the outlet Página 66, which had detailed past links to corruption of a Mexican video surveillance firm, Interconecta, that the Campeche state governor had contracted with. Sánchez was obliged to remove the article after Eliminalia seemingly created a falsified article to launch a US-based copyright claim against him in January 2020.6 Sánchez’s investigation for Página 66 was reportedly one of 13 URLs that Grupo Altavista, the parent company of Interconecta, hired Eliminalia to remove in April 2019.7 In another case reported by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in February 2023, former political candidate Miguel Ángel Colorado Cessa allegedly paid €9,000 to Eliminalia to remove news stories that linked him and his brother to the Mexican cartel Los Zetas.8
Facebook restricted 17,847 pieces of content between January and June 2022, including 46 items related to violations of electoral law and 17,801 items in response to Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) reports of unsafe products.9 During that period, Mexico had the second highest number of Facebook content restrictions in the world, after South Korea.10 Between July and December 2022, Google reported receiving five government requests to remove content, three of which were for privacy and security and two for trademark violations.11
- 1“#LibertadNoDisponible: Censura y remoción de contenidos en México [#FreedomUnavailable: Censorship and content removal in Mexico],” Artículo 19, p. 45, accessed April 28, 2021, https://articulo19.org/libertadnodisponible/
- 2“Voces contra la indiferencia [Voices against indifference],” Artículo 19, March 28, 2023, https://articulo19.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Voces-contra-la-Indif….
- 3Edmundo Morelos, “Yasmín Esquivel Mossa presenta denuncia contra periodistas que exhibieron sus vacaciones en Semana Santa [Yasmín Esquivel Mossa files a complaint against journalists who exhibited her vacations during Easter],” SDP Noticias, April 18, 2023, https://www.sdpnoticias.com/mexico/yasmin-esquivel-mossa-presenta-denun…; Diana Lastiri, “La ministra Yasmín Esquivel denuncia a periodistas que publicaron fotos de sus vacaciones en Canadá [Minister Yasmín Esquivel denounces journalists who published photos of her vacation in Canada],” Proceso, April 18, 2023, https://www.proceso.com.mx/nacional/2023/4/18/la-ministra-yasmin-esquiv….
- 5Alex González Ormerod, “Powerful Mexicans pay to scrub their reputations online. Lawyers fear it’s hindering criminal investigations,” Rest of the World, February 22, 2022, https://restofworld.org/2022/mexicans-scrub-reputations-online/; Peter Guest, “Exposed documents reveal how the powerful clean up their digital past using a reputation laundering firm” Rest of World, February 3, 2022, https://restofworld.org/2022/documents-reputation-laundering-firm-elimi…
- 6Phineas Rueckert, “The Gravediggers: How Eliminalia, a Spanish Reputation Management Firm, Buries the Truth,” Haaretz, February 19, 2023, https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/security-aviation/2023-02-19/ty-art….
- 7“Eliminalia: A Reputation Laundromat for Criminals,” Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, February 17, 2023, https://www.occrp.org/en/storykillers/eliminalia-a-reputation-laundroma….
- 8“Eliminalia: A Reputation Laundromat for Criminals,” Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, February 17, 2023, https://www.occrp.org/en/storykillers/eliminalia-a-reputation-laundroma….
- 9“Mexico,” Facebook Transparency Report, accessed March 19, 2023, https://transparency.facebook.com/content-restrictions/country/MX.
- 10“Restrictions by country,” Facebook Transparency Report, accessed April 26, 2023, https://transparency.fb.com/data/content-restrictions/country/.
- 11“Government requests to remove content,” Transparency Report, Google, accessed August 2023, https://transparencyreport.google.com/government-removals/government-re….
|Do restrictions on the internet and digital content lack transparency, proportionality to the stated aims, or an independent appeals process?||3.003 4.004|
Despite some ambiguity in Mexico’s legal and regulatory framework, it and the independent courts offer significant safeguards against arbitrary or opaque restrictions on content, and past attempts to impose new restrictions have faced strong opposition. In 2017, the SCJN declared that blocking an entire website because of alleged copyright violations was unconstitutional, finding it to be a disproportionate measure that infringed on freedom of expression.1
In November 2022, the First Chamber of the SCJN declared that the so called “right to be forgotten” was incompatible with standards for freedom of expression and access to information, ruling that the obligation to remove personal information about someone who has died from all digital media, established in Mexico City’s civil code, is unconstitutional.2
However, the 2020 reform of the Federal Copyright Law regarding intermediary liability negates many of the protections that the courts had previously provided. The reform establishes “notice and takedown” provisions that require online platforms and hosting services to remove any content requested by a copyright holder alleging infringement, without need of judicial authorization or evidence. The intermediary can face fines ranging from 1,000 ($52) to 2,000 ($104) pesos should they fail to comply. The law also empowers those alleging copyright infringement to obtain personal information on the individual accused of posting the offending content, without proof or protective provisions for the alleged offender. Moreover, the reform places the burden on users to prove that content was removed illegitimately, and on platforms to inform takedown requestors about appeals. Additional provisions require internet services to take measures to prevent prior removed content from being uploaded to their respective service a second time, essentially mandating filters. Noncompliance can result in fines. Civil society organizations have criticized the changes for potentially promoting censorship online and endangering users accused of infringement.3
An April 2023 legislative proposal to create a Federal Cybersecurity Law contains several problematic provisions related to online content regulation.4 Among the provisions, Article 53 requires service providers, social media platforms, and other digital content hosts to comply with orders to "take down IP addresses, applications, domains, and Internet sites” within 72 hours of receiving notification from the “competent authority,” including a proposed National Cybersecurity Agency. The bill also introduces criminal penalties for broadly defined forms of online expression (see C2). Civil society organizations, such as Article 19 and SocialTIC, have criticized the bill for implementing censorship practices and promoting the militarization of cybersecurity.5
In recent years legislators have considered proposals to regulate social media platforms that would limit the transparency and proportionality of removals. A bill introduced in February 2021, for example, would empower IFT to oversee social media companies’ content moderation practices, have the final say on content moderation disputes, and overrule companies’ decisions on content removal. IFT would also be empowered to change platforms’ terms of service, impose fines for noncompliance, and establish other rules related to operations and content. The proposed regulations would apply to platforms with over one million users, which would require IFT’s approval to operate in the country. Platforms would also be required to censor speech upon IFT demand, including vaguely defined “hate speech,” “fake news,” and speech that goes against “order and public interest.” Conversely, platforms would be prohibited from censoring content not outlined in the bill. Under the envisioned appeals system, users could escalate appeals on removal decisions with platforms, the telecommunications regulator, and the judicial system.6
Civil society has criticized the bill for risking free expression, imposing regulatory burdens, and fostering indiscriminate censorship.7 Groups have also warned that fines associated with the bill could keep smaller platforms from operating and increase media concentration, and cautioned that it grants IFT arbitrary decision-making power over which platforms can operate and what content they can host.8
In March 2023, the Tlatelolco Lab, based at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), presented the "Decalogue of Rights of Users of Sociodigital Networks,” a proposal that outlines ten principles to regulate social media in Mexico. Among these points include the “right to a truthful environment on social media.”9 Civil society organizations Access Now and R3D criticized this provision for undermining freedom of expression and taking steps that could establish the state as the arbiter of truth online. Access Now and R3D also criticized the limited role for civil society in the creation of the Decalogue and called for opportunities for civil society to actively participate in ongoing legislative processes to regulate social media platforms.10
No proposal to regulate social media had passed by the end of the coverage period.
- 1Diana Lastiri, “Government can’t block web pages by copyright: Court,” El Universal, April 19, 2017, https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/articulo/nacion/sociedad/2017/04/19/gobi….
- 2“La primera sala de la SCJN declara incompatible el false ‘derecho al olvido’ con el derecho a la libertad de expresión [The First Chamber of the SCJN declares the false ‘right to be forgotten’ incompatible with the right to freedom of expression],” R3D, November 23, 2022, https://r3d.mx/2022/11/23/la-primera-sala-de-la-scjn-debe-declarar-la-i….
- 3Cory Doctorow, “Mexico’s New Copyright Law: Copying and Pasting USA’s Flawed Copyright System Is A Human-Rights Catastrophe in The Making,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, July 2020, https://www.eff.org/files/2020/07/31/mexicos_new_copyright_law.pdf; Kit Walsh, “A Legal Deep Dive on Mexico’s Disastrous New Copyright Law,” Electronic Frontier Foundation, July 30, 2020, https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2020/07/legal-deep-dive-mexicos-disastrou….
- 4Ley Federal de Ciberseguridad [Federal Cybersecurity Law], Gaceta Parlamentaria, Cámara de Diputados, April 25, 2023, http://gaceta.diputados.gob.mx/PDF/65/2023/abr/20230425-II-2.pdf.
- 5“Cybersecurity bill threatens human rights and promotes militarization [Iniciativa de Ley de Ciberseguridad amenaza los derechos humanos y promueve la militarización ]”, ARTICLE 19, R3D, Social Tic, Cultivando Género and Luchadoras MX, April 27, 2023, https://articulo19.org/iniciativa-de-ley-de-ciberseguridad-amenaza-los-…
- 6“Mexico: Online Free Speech at Risk,” Human Rights Watch, April 14, 2021, https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/04/14/mexico-online-free-speech-risk#; “Mexico to require appeals on social media account blocking,” Associated News Press, February 9, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/media-mexico-social-media-laws-297a25b09508b…; “Mexican senator proposes regulating Facebook, Twitter to protect 'freedom of expression,'” Reuters, February 8, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-socialmedia-idUSKBN2A904I.
- 7“Desde la sociedad civil pedimos un debate amplio y multisectorial para la regulación de plataformas digitales” [Civil society asks for a broad and multistakeholder debate for digital platform regulation], Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, February 11, 2021, https://r3d.mx/2021/02/11/desde-la-sociedad-civil-pedimos-un-debate-amp….; “La propuesta del Senador Monreal para regular las redes sociales tiene deficiencias que amenazan la libertad de expresión” [Senator Monreal’s proposal to regulate social networks has deficiencies that threaten freedom of expression], Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, February 9, 2021, https://r3d.mx/2021/02/09/la-propuesta-del-senador-monreal-para-regular….
- 8“Mexico: Online Free Speech at Risk,” Human Rights Watch, April 14, 2021, https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/04/14/mexico-online-free-speech-risk#; “Mexico to require appeals on social media account blocking,” Associated News Press, February 9, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/media-mexico-social-media-laws-297a25b09508b…; “Mexican senator proposes regulating Facebook, Twitter to protect 'freedom of expression,'” Reuters, February 8, 2021, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-socialmedia-idUSKBN2A904I
- 9“Decálogo de Derechos de las Personas Usuarias de Redes Sociodigitales [Decalogue of Rights of the Users of Sociodigital Networks],” Tlatelolco Lab, UNAM, March 27, 2023, https://puedjs.unam.mx/decalogo-digital/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Comp….
- 10Agneris Sampieri, “México: un Decálogo de Derechos Digitales en Redes Sociales o una receta para la censura [Mexico: a Decalogue of Digital Rights in Social Networks or a recipe for censorship],” Access Now, March 30, 2023, https://www.accessnow.org/mexico-decalogo-o-censura/.
|Do online journalists, commentators, and ordinary users practice self-censorship?||2.002 4.004|
Independent digital outlets provide information about key political and social issues, though a climate of violence and harassment against the media contributes to increasing self-censorship, especially in states that are heavily affected by violent crime (see B7 and C7).1 Local media tend to refrain from reporting on drug trafficking, corruption, and organized crime.
A January 2020 study by the media freedom civil society organization SembraMedia noted that 21 percent of the digital outlets assessed admitted to avoiding covering certain topics, people, or institutions due to threats or intimidation.2 According to the director of one online outlet, who was quoted in Article 19’s annual 2021 report, an increase in violence in the state of Guanajuato has prompted local journalists to “[opt] for superficial coverage of the violence, limited to official declarations and anonymous testimony.”3
After digital journalist Heber López Vásquez was murdered in February 2022, several fellow journalists reported that it created a chilling effect on their own coverage. Before he was killed, López had reported on a local politician’s alleged corruption related to an infrastructure project in Oaxaca state. At least ten journalists said they were more afraid to report on the development project and other related misconduct following the murder, and one acknowledged that “self-censorship is the only thing that will keep you safe.”4
- 1Rodrigo Gutiérrez González “Asesinato, autocensura o el exilio, ´la regla´para el periodismo en México” [Murder, self-censorship or exile, the “rule” for journalism in Mexico], La Silla Rota, April 19, 2019, https://lasillarota.com/nacion/asesinato-autocensura-o-exilio-la-regla-….
- 2“Los medios digitales nativos pagan un precio por perseguir la verdad” [Native digital media pay a price for chasing the truth], Sembramedia, accessed January 6, 2020, http://data.sembramedia.org/vulnerabilidad/?lang=es.
- 3“Negación” [Denial], Artículo 19, accessed April 20, 2022, https://articulo19.org/negacion/.
- 4Sarah Kinosian, “In Mexico, a reporter published a story. The next day he was shot dead,” Reuters, January 21, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-reporter-published-story-….
|Are online sources of information controlled or manipulated by the government or other powerful actors to advance a particular political interest?||1.001 4.004|
Mexico has a history of online trolls and automated “bot” accounts targeting discussions and reports that are critical of the government, political parties, or politicians, including during electoral periods.1 Under President López Obrador, coordinated online networks have been found to spread progovernment narratives and launch coordinated smear campaigns against the president’s perceived rivals.
Platforms regularly detect efforts to influence Mexico’s online sphere through coordinated inauthentic behavior. Between 2017 and 2022, Meta detected 13 coordinated inauthentic behavior networks originating in Mexico—the third most in the world after Russia and Iran—though Facebook described them as “less tactically sophisticated.”2 According to Meta, coordinated inauthentic behavior efforts are especially significant around electoral periods, and sometimes a network managed by a public relations or marketing agency may support two candidates for the same seat. During the previous coverage period, in June 2021, Facebook reported removing three Mexico-based networks of accounts for violating the platform’s policy on coordinated inauthentic behavior ahead of that month’s gubernatorial elections.3 The networks, which separately targeted audiences in the states of Campeche, San Luis Potosí, Nayarit, and Sinaloa, employed inauthentic accounts and sometimes ran pages that appeared to be local news outlets to amplify content supporting and criticizing a variety of candidates. Facebook found links between the networks, Mexican public relations firms, and state-affiliated actors. The network targeting audiences in San Luis Potosí, which primarily amplified content supporting victorious gubernatorial candidate Ricardo Gallardo Cardona, for instance, was found to have links to individuals associated with Cardona’s campaign.4
Shortly before June 2021 legislative elections, a representative from Signa Lab noted the rise of online manipulation and attacks, as well as the proliferation of misinformation. The prominence of inauthentic accounts was confirmed by TwitterAudit, which estimated that 26 percent of President López Obrador’s Twitter followers and 19 percent of former president Felipe Calderón’s Twitter followers were inauthentic.5
Disinformation was also spread by state-linked actors for political purposes in the 2018 election. In April 2022, Animal Político reported on consulting firm Heurística’s role in financing disinformation campaigns targeting Ricardo Anaya Cortés and Alejandra Barrales, two candidates who competed against López Obrador. The firm, which coordinated López Obrador’s campaign that year, produced and propagated viral videos containing untrue or unsubstantiated claims about Anaya and Barrales. Agency employees also confirmed that they had managed inauthentic profiles to interact with the videos to enhance their prominence on social networks.6
Online campaigns amplifying support for López Obrador and trolling his perceived rivals or users who question or criticize him have been mounted outside of electoral periods. In March 2023, Animal Político reported that pro-López Obrador accounts had disseminated more than 20,000 tweets in an online smear campaign against the recently elected president of the SCJN, Norma Lucía Piña Hernández,7 who has often ruled against López Obrador’s government in judicial decisions.8 That month, many tweets used the hashtag #PiñaMadrinaDeLosNarcos (#PiñaGodmotherOfTheNarcos) to make unsubstantiated links between Piña and drug trafficking.9
The following month, Animal Político reported on “Red Brolan,” a seemingly coordinated network of at least 23 YouTube channels, linked to the Brolan marketing agency, that spreads political narratives in favor of President López Obrador’s government. Videos posted to these channels often make accusations about López Obrador’s political opponents and critical journalists using unsubstantiated or manipulated evidence, such as one video that was slowed down to make an opposition congresswoman appear intoxicated. Though Red Brolan videos are supportive of López Obrador and his National Regeneration Movement (MORENA) party, there is no evidence that the government or party have financed this network.10 Another April 2023 Animal Político article referenced videos on social media platforms, including Facebook and TikTok, that apparently utilized artificial intelligence–generated presenters to praise López Obrador and discredit his political opponents.11
Investigative reporting published by the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism (CLIP) in November 2022 detailed apparent efforts by the López Obrador government to manipulate online discourse with public resources, amounting to an “official propaganda apparatus.”12 The InfodemiaMX platform, ostensibly a fact-checking initiative coordinated by the Mexican Public Broadcasting System and financed with public funds, has reportedly been used to present biased or false information on behalf of the López Obrador government and his MORENA party. In one example from August 2022, an InfodemiaMX program broadcast on social media was used to defend the government's position on a train infrastructure project, calling opposition to the project #MentirasEcologicas (#EcologicalLies).13 InfodemiaMX has its own website and publishes content on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
CLIP’s report also details the "Who's Who in Lies" segment of President López Obrador’s morning press conferences, during which he supposedly calls out false information in the media while in many cases making false or misleading claims of his own. The news conferences are broadcast live on social networks, and received 11 million views across Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube in July 2022 alone.14
In December 2021, during the previous coverage period, the Stanford Internet Observatory reported on a network of 276 accounts removed by Twitter that month. The network had engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior in 2019 and 2020—including by repurposing accounts originally created for reality television shows—to amplify support for López Obrador and his government’s initiatives while targeting his opponents. Many of the implicated accounts also voiced support for subsidiaries of Mexican conglomerate Grupo Salinas, which is owned by an ally of the president. The network targeted the conglomerate’s opponents and defended Group Salinas stores’ operation during COVID-19 lockdowns.15
Foreign actors have also spread disinformation in Mexico in recent years. A July 2022 investigation conducted by the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab and Animal Político reported on the existence of a supposed network of 114 websites, created in Venezuela between 2018 and 2021, to disseminate messages in support of President López Obrador, as well as disinformation about his rivals and foreign governments.16
- 1Pablo Suárez-Serrato, Margaret E. Roberts, Clayton A. Davis, Filippo Menczer, "On the influence of social bots in online protests. Preliminary findings of a Mexican case study," Cornell University Library, September 27, 2016, https://arxiv.org/abs/1609.08239; Steven Melendez, “To see the future of social media manipulation in politics, look to Mexico,” Fast Company, February 2, 2018, https://www.fastcompany.com/40531308/to-see-the-future-of-social-media-….
- 2“Recapping Our 2022 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Enforcements”, Meta, December 15, 2022, https://about.fb.com/news/2022/12/metas-2022-coordinated-inauthentic-be…
- 3“June 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report,” Meta, July 8, 2021, https://about.fb.com/news/2021/07/june-2021-coordinated-inauthentic-beh….
- 4“June 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report,” Facebook, June 2021, https://about.fb.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/June-2021-CIB-Report-Fi…
- 5“Fake news on the rise ahead of Mexico elections,” France 24, May 24, 2021, https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210524-fake-news-on-the-rise-ah…
- 6Zedryk Raziel, “Empresa publicista de campaña de AMLO financió desinformación contra Ricardo Anaya en 2018 [AMLO’s PR firm financed misinformation against Ricardo Anaya in 2018],” Animal Político, April 27, 2022, https://www.animalpolitico.com/2022/04/empresa-publicista-amlo-2018-fin….
- 7Arturo Daen y Frasua Esquerra, “Cuentas pro AMLO despliegan ‘ola’ de mensajes con desinformación y dichos sin sustento sobre la ministra Piña [Pro-AMLO accounts deploy 'wave' of disinformation and unsubstantiated messages about Minister Piña],” Animal Político, March 10, 2023, https://www.animalpolitico.com/verificacion-de-hechos/te-explico/cuenta….
- 8“Mexico’s Supreme Court elects first female president,” Aljazeera, January 3, 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/1/3/mexicos-supreme-court-elects-fi….
- 9Arturo Daen y Frasua Esquerra, “Cuentas pro AMLO despliegan ‘ola’ de mensajes con desinformación y dichos sin sustento sobre la ministra Piña [Pro-AMLO accounts deploy 'wave' of disinformation and unsubstantiated messages about Minister Piña]”, Animal Político, March 10, 2023, https://www.animalpolitico.com/verificacion-de-hechos/te-explico/cuenta….
- 10“Red Brolan: youtubers afines a AMLO difunden desinformación política y contra periodistas [Brolan Network: AMLO-friendly youtubers spread political and anti-journalist disinformation],” Animal Político, April 19, 2023, https://www.animalpolitico.com/verificacion-de-hechos/te-explico/brolan….
- 11Samedi Aguirre, “‘Las máquinas aprenden’: Inteligencia Artificial evoluciona y puede usarse para engañar, pero no todo está perdido ['Machines learn': Artificial Intelligence evolves and can be used to deceive, but all is not lost],” April 23, 2023, https://www.animalpolitico.com/verificacion-de-hechos/te-explico/inteli…; @elsabuesoap, El Sabueso de Animal Político, TikTok, April 6, 2023, https://www.tiktok.com/@elsabuesoap/video/7218968175268859142.
- 12Arturo Daen, Tania L Montalvo, Animal Político, “Infodemia y Quién es Quién, más propaganda que chequeo con recursos públicos en México [Infodemic and Who's Who, more propaganda than checking with public resources in Mexico],” Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística, November 30, 2022, https://www.elclip.org/infodemia-y-quien-es-quien-propaganda-desinforma….
- 13InfodemiaMx, @infodemiaMex, Twitter, August 9, 2022, https://twitter.com/infodemiaMex/status/1557162312775213057.
- 14Arturo Daen, Tania L Montalvo, Animal Político, “Infodemia y Quién es Quién, más propaganda que chequeo con recursos públicos en México [Infodemic and Who's Who, more propaganda than checking with public resources in Mexico],” Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística, November 30, 2022, https://www.elclip.org/infodemia-y-quien-es-quien-propaganda-desinforma….
- 15Elena Cryst, Sean Gallagher, and David Thiel, “Seeing Double: Twitter Removes Network of Duplicate Accounts Cheerleading Mexican Political Allies,” Stanford Internet Observatory, December 2, 2021, https://stacks.stanford.edu/file/druid:ts174wj6537/20211202-mx-twitter-….
- 16Lidia Sánchez y Esteban Ponce de Léon, “Red de sitios venezolanos a cargo de desinformación y propaganda sobre México, El Salvador, España y Perú [Network of Venezuelan sites in charge of disinformation and propaganda on Mexico, El Salvador, Spain and Peru],” Animal Político, July 27, 2022, https://mirror.animalpolitico.com/2022/07/red-de-sitios-venezolanos-des….
|Are there economic or regulatory constraints that negatively affect users’ ability to publish content online?||2.002 3.003|
Scarce funding creates challenges for individuals and nonprofits seeking to establish sustainable online outlets. Reliance on advertising purchases by public institutions renders independent media vulnerable to content manipulation or closure due to withdrawal of funding,1 although the former appears to be the more pernicious of the two trends.2 The government has used lengthy tax audits as a “preferred tactic” to pressure media outlets, according to SembraMedia.3
According to a 2020 study conducted by the Autonomous University of Nuevo León (UANL) for UNESCO Mexico, the “vast majority” of media outlets rely on public advertising as a source of income, particularly in states where the number of private advertising contracts is declining. This financial dependence has created a perception of compromised editorial integrity, with 24.4 percent of journalists in the UANL survey indicating that their work is not conducted independently of the public authorities.4
Article 19 noted that 10 media and communication companies received 54.8 percent of the total official advertising budget in 2022, and that the remaining 45.2 percent was distributed to 399 other groups.5 In December 2022, the Chamber of Deputies approved a reform to the Social Communication Law, which regulates government spending on advertising. However, the reforms were criticized for again failing to establish clear and transparent rules for the allocation of public advertising funds.6 In April 2023, the Senate eliminated a provision that capped the public advertising spending of state and municipal governments at 0.1 percent of their annual budget.7 At the end of the coverage period, President López Obrador was considering whether or not to veto the removal of this cap.8
Digital outlets have worked to find alternative sources of funding. According to a report that was published in July 2021, 15 of the 19 digital local outlets surveyed (79 percent) were implementing paid content models or were planning to do so within three years.9
Though the 2014 Telecommunications Law established protections for net neutrality, IFT’s Traffic Management and Internet Administration Guidelines,10 which went into effect in September 2021,11 allow ISPs to engage in the paid prioritization of traffic (see A5). The policy had been criticized by civil society members, who argued that it did not require ISPs to be transparent about their network management practices and would allow for discrimination against nonprofit organizations, entities with less funding, and content providers.12 In 2021, a group of civil society organizations presented a legal action against the Traffic Management and Internet Administration Guidelines, and there were no updates to the case as of May 2023.13
In April 2023, a MORENA legislator in the Chamber of Deputies proposed a reform that would regulate streaming platforms under the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law. Among other regulatory provisions, the proposal would subject streaming platforms to additional tax requirements.14
- 4“Informe de resultados de estudios cualitativo y cuantitativo sobre la percepción del trabajo periodístico en México [Report on the results of qualitative and quantitative studies on the perception of journalistic work in Mexico], UANL-UNESCO, 2020, https://es.unesco.org/sites/default/files/ensep_unesco_2020_cuali-cuant…
- 5“Voces contra la indiferencia [Voices against indifference],” p. 11, Artículo 19, March 28, 2023, https://articulo19.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Voces-contra-la-Indif….
- 6“La reciente reforma a la Ley General de Comunicación Social mantiene las condiciones para censura sutil y falta de transparencia [The recent reform to the Social Communication Law maintains the conditions for subtle censorship and lack of transparency.], Fundar, December 12, 2022, https://fundar.org.mx/la-reciente-reforma-a-la-ley-general-de-comunicac… La Corte ordena al Congreso emitir ley que regule el gasto en publicidad oficial,” Animal Político, November 15, 2017, https://www.animalpolitico.com/2017/11/corte-regulacion-publicidad-ofic….; “Reevalúen ley sobre #PublicidadOficial, piden ONU y CIDH a legisladores” [Reassess law on #PublicidadOficial, ask UN and IACHR for legislators], Aristegui Noticias, April 24, 2018, https://aristeguinoticias.com/2404/mexico/reevaluen-ley-sobre-publicida…; “Ley Chayote viola libertad de expresión, no hay reglas claras en publicidad oficial: Medios Libres” [Chayote Law violates freedom of expression, there are no clear rules in official advertising: Free Media], Animal Político, April 26, 2018, https://www.animalpolitico.com/2018/04/ley-chayote-viola-libertad-de-ex…; “Colectivo #MediosLibres exige al Congreso regular la publicidad oficial con transparencia” [Collective #MedioLibres requires Congress to Regulate Official Publicity with Transparency], Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, February 8, 2018, https://r3d.mx/2018/02/08/colectivo-medioslibres-exige-al-congreso-regu…; “Colectivo #MediosLibres llama a AMLO a regular la publicidad oficial” [Collective #MediosLibres calls AMLO to regulate official advertising], Artículo 19, May 31, 2019, https://articulo19.org/carta-abierta-a-amlo/.
- 7Senado de la República, “Por unanimidad, Senado aprueba reforma a Ley General de Comunicación Social [Unanimously, the Senate approves reform to the General Law of Social Communication],” April 25, 2023, https://comunicacionsocial.senado.gob.mx/informacion/comunicados/5794-p….
- 8Dalia Escobar, “AMLO analiza vetar la reforma a la Ley de Comunicación que elimina tope a la publicidad en estados [AMLO analyzes vetoing the reform to the Communication Law that eliminates the cap on advertising in states],” Proceso, June 9, 2023, https://www.proceso.com.mx/nacional/2023/6/9/amlo-analiza-vetar-la-refo….
- 9“¿El despertar de un gigante adormecido? Los cambios profundos que se avecinan en el ecosistema de medios locales y regionales en México” [The awakening of a sleeping giant? The upcoming deep changes in the local and regional media ecosystem in Mexico],” WAN-IFRA, July 15, 2021, https://informemediosmexico2021.com.
- 10“Acuerdo mediante el cual el Pleno del Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones expide los “Lineamientos para la gestión de tráfico y administración de red a que deberán sujetarse los concesionarios y autorizados que presten el servicio de acceso a Internet” [Agreement through which the IFT issues the “Guidelines for traffic and network management for concession and authorized operators that grant internet Access], Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones, June 29, 2021, , http://www.ift.org.mx/sites/default/files/conocenos/pleno/sesiones/acue….
- 11“En septiembre entran en vigor nuevas disposiciones de acceso a internet [New internet access rules go into effect in September],” Expansión, September 1, 2021, https://expansion.mx/tecnologia/2021/09/01/en-septiembre-entran-en-vigo…
- 12“Lineamientos del IFT incumplen obligación de proteger la neutralidad de la red y favorecen a empresas” [IFT’s guidelines don’t meet the obligation to protect net neutrality, and they favor enterprises], Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, July 7, 2021, https://r3d.mx/2021/07/07/lineamientos-del-ift-incumplen-obligacion-de-…; “Mexican Federal Institute of Communications approves guidelines jeopardizing net neutrality,” Access Now, July 12, 2021, https://www.accessnow.org/mexico-guidelines-jeopardize-net-neutrality/
- 13“Lineamientos del IFT incumplen obligación de proteger la neutralidad de la red y favorecen a empresas [IFT guidelines breach obligation to protect net neutrality and favor companies]”, ARTICLE19, July 7, 2021, https://articulo19.org/lineamientos-del-ift-incumplen-obligacion-de-pro…
- 14Enrique Gomez, “Morena va por regular plataformas de streaming para que no evadan impuestos [Morena goes to regulate streaming platforms so they don't evade taxes],” El Universal, April 24, 2023, https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/morena-va-por-regular-plataformas….
|Does the online information landscape lack diversity and reliability?||3.003 4.004|
Violence and economic constraints affect independent digital outlets in Mexico.1 Despite these challenges, independent outlets continue to emerge and operate, enriching the media ecosystem with alternative agendas that support human rights and the right to information.2
One example of these independent outlets is Lado B, which was created by freelancers and local journalists in 2011. Despite announcing a temporary pause on operations in February 2022, the outlet returned in July of that year to again “review the relationship between the press and power in Puebla.”3 Amapola, an outlet from Guerrero, questions the state’s narrative regarding criminal violence.4
Sustained efforts to create outlets that represent diverse experiences have also found success in Mexico. Homosensual is one of the most widely read LGBT+ websites in Latin America and was nominated for outstanding Spanish-language online journalism in the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) 2021 Media Awards.5
As public awareness about online manipulation and the spread of disinformation has increased, fact-checking and data journalism initiatives have sought to counter false information presented through official channels and other media. As of December 2022, for instance, SPIN Taller de Comunicación Política alleged that President López Obrador made at least 101,155 false, misleading, or unprovable claims in the first 1,484 days of his term after fact-checking his daily press conferences.6
- 1“Los medios digitales nativos pagan un precio por perseguir la verdad” [Native digital media pay a price for chasing the truth], Sembramedia, accessed January 6, 2020, http://data.sembramedia.org/vulnerabilidad/?lang=es.
- 2For example: Based in Mexico City, Pie de Página is an initiative born from the experience of the Periodistas de a pie network and Radios Libres, a project that seeks to boost communitarian radios with free technologies. Another innovative initiative in the digital media landscape is Pictoline, born at the end of 2015. Other examples of independent online news outlets in other states are Página 3 based in Oaxaca; and Chiapas Paralelo in Chiapas.
- 3El fin de un ciclo, la pausa que viene para LADO B [The end of a cycle, the coming pause for LADO B ], Febrruary 15, 2022, LADO B, https://www.ladobe.com.mx/2022/07/despausamos/; Despausamos [We unpause], LADO B, July 18, 2022, https://www.ladobe.com.mx/2022/07/despausamos/
- 4Amapola Periodismo Transgresor, accessed January 6, 2020, https://amapolaperiodismo.com/
- 5“The Nominees for the 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards,” GLAAD, accessed July 12, 2021, https://www.glaad.org/mediaawards/32/nominees.
- 6“Infografía #88” [Infographic #88], Conferencias matutinas de AMLO–SPIN TCP, December 23, 2022, https://www.spintcp.com/conferenciapresidente/infografias-88/.
|Do conditions impede users’ ability to mobilize, form communities, and campaign, particularly on political and social issues?||6.006 6.006|
Even in the face of cyberattacks, harassment, and physical assaults, users make regular use of digital tools to mobilize protests and to raise awareness about human rights abuses related to violence in the country.
In February 2023, President López Obrador’s attempt to introduce structural reforms that would weaken the National Electoral Institute (INE), known as “Plan B,” led to massive demonstrations in February 2023.1 Despite apparent efforts to stifle discourse ahead of the February 26 protests,2 people mobilized on social media platforms using the hashtags #ElINENoSeToca (#DoNotTouchTheINE) and #MiVotoNoSeToca (#DoNotTouchMyVote).3 In May and June 2023, the SCJN invalidated the Plan B reforms, ruling that Congress had not adhered to proper legislative procedure.4
For the last several years a sustained movement against gender-based violence has been organized on different online channels, leading to historic participation in street demonstrations and strikes.5 Feminist activists and collectives have used digital platforms to promote discussions about gender-based violence, building on hashtags such as #YoTambién (#MeToo), #MiPrimerAcoso (#MyFirstHarassment), and #SiMeMatan (#IfIAmMurdered). In April 2022, during the previous coverage period, feminist protests were held across the country after 18-year-old Debanhi Escobar, who had gone missing earlier that month, was found dead in Monterrey; protesters called for justice in the Escobar case and for other missing women. The protests were sparked by an image of Escobar taken on the night of her disappearance, which circulated on social media.6 Escobar’s parents sought to mobilize support and demand justice for their daughter via digital platforms; in June 2022, they publicly called on supporters to post an image of a lit candle on social media with the hashtag #JusticiaparaDebanhi (#JusticeForDebanhi).7
Activism for internet freedom issues also occurs in Mexico. In March 2022, digital rights group R3D launched the #NoNosVeanLaCara (#DoNotSeeOurFaces) campaign to protest the installation of facial recognition systems in soccer stadiums and the creation of a database that attendees are required to register with.8
- 1Sonia Corona, “La oposición llena el Zócalo para protestar contra la reforma electoral de López Obrador [Opposition fills Zócalo to protest López Obrador's electoral reform]”, El País, February 26, 2023 https://elpais.com/mexico/2023-02-26/la-oposicion-llena-el-zocalo-para-…
- 2Carlos Piña, @Piniisima, Twitter, February 24, 2023, https://twitter.com/Piniisima/status/1629195607339589632?s=20.
- 3Rodrigo Soriano and Sonia Corona, “Así le hemos contado la protesta de la oposición en defensa del INE [This is how we told you about the opposition's protest in defense of INE]”, El País, February 26, 2023, https://elpais.com/mexico/2023-02-26/la-protesta-de-la-oposicion-en-def…; France24, “Mexicans protest controversial electoral reform,” February 26, 2023, https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20230226-mexicans-protest-controv….
- 4Mexico News Daily, “SCJN invalidates first part of ‘Plan B’ electoral reform package,” May 9, 2023, https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/mexican-supreme-court-invalidates-part…; SCJN, “Invalida la corte la segunda parte del paquete de reformas político-electorales 2022-2023 por violaciones al procedimiento legislativo [Court invalidates the second arto f the 2022-2023 political-electoral reform package for violations of legislative procedure]”, June 22, 2023, https://www.internet2.scjn.gob.mx/red2/comunicados/noticia.asp?id=7408
- 5Giovanna Salazar, “#VivasNosQueremos: Mexican women take to the streets to protests femicides and violence,” Open Democracy, March 7, 2019, https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/democraciaabierta/vivasnosqueremos-mex…; Ann Deslandes, “International Women’s Day Protesters in Mexico Take Over Central Plaza to Honor Victims of Femicide,” Women’s Media Center, March 16, 2021, https://womensmediacenter.com/women-under-siege/international-womens-da…. Ana Isabel Martínez and Adriana Barrera, “Mexican women protest femicides as president warns against violence,” Reuters, March 8, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexican-women-protest-femicides-…; Amy Stillman, Lorena Ríos, and Cyntia Aurora Barrera Díaz, “Mexicans Take to Streets in Historic March Against Femicide,” Bloomberg, March 8, 2020, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-08/mexicans-take-to-the…
- 6“Hundreds of women protest after missing 18-year-old law student Debanhi Escobar is found dead: "Mexico is a mass grave",” CBS News, April 25, 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/debanhi-escobar-killing-mexico-protest/.
- 7“Piden justicia para Debanhi con publicación en redes sociales [They ask for justice for Debanhi on social media],” El Heraldo de Saltillo, June 17, 2022, https://www.elheraldodesaltillo.mx/2022/06/17/piden-justicia-para-deban….
- 8R3D, @R3Dmx, “Enviamos esta carta a @FMF y @LigaBBVAMX en contra de la imposición de medidas autoritarias y demagógicas que ponen en riesgo a la afición […],” Twitter, March 16, 2022, https://twitter.com/R3Dmx/status/1504247174367961093?ref_src=twsrc%5Etf…
|Do the constitution or other laws fail to protect rights such as freedom of expression, access to information, and press freedom, including on the internet, and are they enforced by a judiciary that lacks independence?||3.003 6.006|
The constitution and its regulatory laws guarantee freedom of speech, freedom of the press, privacy of personal communications, and freedom of access to information. A constitutional reform in 2013 established internet access as a human right and guaranteed net neutrality (see B6). However, the López Obrador administration’s policies and proposals have sought to undermine existing safeguards for these rights (see A5, B3, C2 and C6).
The judiciary is currently regarded as generally independent. Following the election of Norma Lucía Piña Hernández as the first woman president of the SCJN in January 2023, President López Obrador has voiced dissatisfaction with her appointment and the recent role of the judiciary,1 and supporters of López Obrador have targeted Piña with an online disinformation campaign (see B5). The former president of the SCJN, Arturo Zaldívar, had been viewed as a López Obrador ally.
Despite concerns about diminished autonomy under López Obrador in recent years, the judiciary has exhibited impartiality and ruled in favor of human rights online, as with the SCJN’s decision against the “right to be forgotten” in November 2022 and its invalidation of a biometric cell phone registry in April 2022 (see B3 and C4). In the latter ruling, Zaldívar emphasized the lack of security in data handling and the consequent lack of justification for the state to maintain so much private information, as well as the registry’s likely ineffectiveness in combating crime.2
- 1Tras designación de la ministra Norma Piña en la Corte aumentaron actos ilegales e injustos, acusa AMLO [After Minister Norma Piña's appointment to the Court, illegal and unjust acts increased, accuses AMLO],” El Universal, January 20, 2023, https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/amlo-tras-designacion-de-la-minis…; AMLO acusa a la ministra Norma Piña y al CJF de no informar sobre jueces que liberan a delincuentes [AMLO accuses Minister Norma Piña and CJF of failing to report on judges who free criminals],” El Universal, February 24, 2023, https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/amlo-acusa-la-ministra-norma-pina…
- 2Luis Fernando García, @tumbolian. “Para el @ArturoZaldivarL los datos biométricos solo pueden ser obtenidos por el Estado en casos excepcionales. También coincide con el proyecto. (Muy relevante). 4-0 faltan 4 para que muera el #PANAUT definitivamente.”, Twitter, April 25, 2022. https://twitter.com/tumbolian/status/1518646492038410241; Darinka Rodriguez, “La Suprema Corte de México invalida la creación de un padrón de datos biométricos para usuarios de celulares,” El País, April 25, 2022, https://elpais.com/mexico/2022-04-25/la-suprema-corte-de-mexico-invalid…
|Are there laws that assign criminal penalties or civil liability for online activities, particularly those that are protected under international human rights standards?||2.002 4.004|
Provisions from both the criminal and civil codes continue to be used to intimidate ordinary users and journalists, including those who publish online. For example, Article 277 of the state penal code in San Luis Potosí criminalizes those who insult authority with one-to-three-year prison sentences.1 Although defamation was decriminalized at the federal level in 2007, state-level criminal defamation statutes persist.2
In June 2022, deputy Rafael Alejandro Micalco Méndez presented a bill in the Puebla legislature that would recriminalize defamation and slander in the state’s penal code.3 A group of civil society organizations, including the Puebla Journalists Network and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), warned of the potential chilling effect the bill could have on freedom of expression and journalistic work, particularly for investigations related to acts of corruption, organized crime, and serious human rights violations.4 The proposal faced opposition in the Puebla legislature and was not adopted during the coverage period.5
Efforts to remove the crime of defamation from Yucatán’s state penal code stalled during the coverage period. In February 2022, a group of journalists spearheaded an initiative to decriminalize defamation in the state, citing concerns over freedom of expression.6 However, despite continued efforts by the journalistic coalition, the legislature had not yet decriminalized defamation as of November 2022.7
Legislation to criminalize hate speech, discrimination, terrorism, and misinformation at the federal and state levels has been proposed in recent years, though no proposals were passed by the end of the coverage period.8 The proposed Federal Cybersecurity Law (see B3 and C5), presented in the Chamber of Deputies in April 2023, introduces criminal penalties for overly broad forms of online expression. For instance, Article 78 of the bill broadly criminalizes online expressions that “incite or consist of terrorism, or advocate national, racial, sexual or religious hatred, or constitute discrimination,” in addition to actions that “systematically, automatically and intentionally misinform the population causing the individual or collective manipulation of people.”9 Criminal sanctions range from three to six years in prison, and fines of approximately $2,700 to $5,400 as of 2023.
The movement to criminalize the nonconsensual sharing of intimate images saw major developments in recent years. In April 2021, Congress approved reforms to the General Law on Women's Access to a Life Free of Violence and the federal criminal code, legislation known as the national Olympia Law, which criminalizes the nonconsensual sharing of intimate images and punishes “digital violence.”10 It includes provisions for three-to-six-year prison sentences and fines of up to 90,000 pesos ($4,669) for those found guilty of digital violence as defined by the law.11 As of December 2021, all of the country’s 32 states had passed laws in line with the federal Olympia Law.12 Gender and digital rights organizations criticized a number of the state laws for being disproportionate, potentially prompting censorship, and lacking reparations for victims.13 The Senate approved the federal law in November 2020, without adjusting the law to incorporate criticisms raised by civil society groups, including the ambiguity of concepts like “digital violence” and the vagueness of what constitutes “intimate sexual content.”14 Nonetheless, the Olympia Law did not appear to have been used to censor journalists as of the end of the coverage period.
- 1Juan Vázquez, “Funcionarios de San Luis Potosí demandan por daño moral al diario El Pulso,” Article 19, February 24, 2018, https://articulo19.org/funcionarios-de-san-luis-potosi-demandan-por-dan…; Código Penal San Luis Potosí, Artículo 277, accessed October 3, 2021, https://leyes-mx.com/codigo_penal_san_luis_potosi/277.htm
- 2“Leyes del silencio: Acoso judicial contra la Libertad de expression en México y Colombia [Laws of silence: legal harassment against freedom of expression in Mexico and Colombia],” Article 19, May 3, 2021, https://articulo19.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/INFORME-LEYES-DEL-SIL….
- 3“Iniciativa legislativa para incorporar los delitos de difamación y calumnia al Código penal de Puebla, atenta contra la libertad de expresión [Legislative initiative to incorporate the crimes of defamation and slander to the Criminal Code of Puebla violates freedom of expression. ]”, Porpuesta Cívica, June 30, 2022, https://propuestacivica.org.mx/noticia/iniciativa-legislativa-para-inco…
- 4Article 19, “Iniciativa legislativa para incorporar los delitos de difamación y calumnia al Código penal de Puebla, atenta contra la libertad de expression [Legislative initiative to incorporate the crimes of defamation and slander into the Penal Code of Puebla, violates freedom of expression],” June 29, 2022, https://articulo19.org/iniciativa-legislativa-para-incorporar-los-delit….
- 5Monica Camacho, “Morena descarta que en Puebla se vuelva a sancionar con cárcel la difamación y calumnia [Morena rules out that in Puebla defamation and slander will be punished with jail again],” La Jornada de Oriente, June 10, 2022, https://www.lajornadadeoriente.com.mx/puebla/morena-descarta-que-en-pue….
- 6Cecilia Abreu, “Periodistas exigen derogar el delito de difamación en Yucatán [Journalists demand repeal of the crime of defamation in Yucatan],” La Jornada Maya, February 16, 2022, https://www.lajornadamaya.mx/yucatan/190220/periodistas-exigen-derogar-….
- 7Edwin Farfan Cervantes, “Colectivo presenta ante el Congreso de Yucatán un Proyecto contra la difamación [Collective presents a project against defamation before the Yucatan Congress],” November 23, 2022, https://www.poresto.net/yucatan/2022/11/23/colectivo-presenta-ante-el-c….
- 8In June 2020, for instance, lawmaker Lorenia Valles Sampedro introduced a bill to reform the federal criminal code to cover hate speech and the incitement of hostility, discrimination, and violence; civil society organizations criticized the bill’s vague language and argued that only certain types of speech should be addressed through criminal law. See, “Pronunciamiento: iniciativa para combatir el discurso de odio atenta contra la libertad de expresión” [Position paper: initiative to combat hate speech attempts against freedom of speech], Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, June 25, 2020, https://r3d.mx/2020/06/25/pronunciamiento-iniciativa-para-combatir-el-d….
- 9Gaceta Palamentaria, “Iniciativa con proyecto de decreto por el que se expide de Ley Federal de Ciberseguridad [Initiative with project decree issuing the Federal Cybersecurity Law],” April 25, 2023, http://gaceta.diputados.gob.mx/PDF/65/2023/abr/20230425-II-2.pdf.
- 10“Diputados aprueban la ‘Ley Olimpia’, que castiga la violencia digital con hasta 6 años de cárcel” [Deputies approve Ley Olimpia, which will punish digital violence with up to 6 years in prison], Animal Político, April 29, 2021, https://www.animalpolitico.com/2021/04/diputados-reforma-violencia-digi…; Rojas, Ana Gabriela, Ciberacoso, "Pasé de ser la 'gordibuena' del video sexual que criticaba todo el pueblo a que 11 estados de México aprobaran una ley con mi nombre” [I went from being the 'gordibuena' of the sex video that criticized all the people to 11 states of Mexico passing a law with my name], BBC Mundo en México, September 26, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-49763560.
- 11“The ‘Olimpia Law’ which punishes digital violence comes into force in all of Mexico,” The Yucatan Times, April 30, 2021, https://www.theyucatantimes.com/2021/04/the-olimpia-law-which-punishes-…
- 12@CNDH, CNDH in Mexico, Twitter, December 4, 2021, https://twitter.com/CNDH/status/1467312771595485185?s=20.
- 13“Violencia sexual digital: Un balance de la Ley Olimpia en CDMX” [Digital sexual violence: A balance of the Olimpia Law in CDMX], Luchadoras, December 16, 2019, https://luchadoras.mx/un-balance-de-la-ley-olimpia-en-cdmx/.
|Are individuals penalized for online activities, particularly those that are protected under international human rights standards?||4.004 6.006|
Threats of legal action are frequently issued in response to critical reports published online. Article 19 documented 32 cases of judicial harassment against journalists in 2022 – an average of 2.6 journalists or media outlets targeted through civil or criminal proceedings for their reporting each month – with cases particularly concentrated in the state of Yucatán.1 Among the 32 cases, 15 (46.88 percent) were handled through civil processes, 9 (28.13 percent) through criminal proceedings, 4 through administrative actions, and 4 through electoral proceedings (12.5 percent each).
Article 19 has raised concerns that legal punishments for gender-based political violence – a pervasive issue in Mexico – could be used as an instrument of journalistic censorship.2 In April 2022, the INE initiated a sanctioning proceeding against journalist Erick Gutiérrez after he tweeted critical comments about Deputy Gabriela Sodi Miranda in November 2021. Sodi alleged that Gutiérrez committed online gender-based political violence against her. Gutiérrez challenged the decision from the INE, and, in August 2022, the Specialized Regional Chamber of the Electoral Tribunal of the Federal Judiciary ruled that he had not committed political violence.3
Although the resolution of Gutiérrez’s case protected freedom of expression, legal sanctions for gender-based political violence have been used to target other digital journalists. In Baja California Sur, four journalists were accused of gender-based violence for April 2021 publications in the digital outlets BCS Noticias and MetrópoliMx in which they claimed that the relative of a Labor Party (PT) deputy had improperly exploited her connections to become a candidate for state office and published a photo of the candidate posing for an adult magazine. After the case appeared to be administratively resolved with the INE, the Attorney General's Office (FGR) opened an investigation and, in September 2022, the journalists were criminally charged with the alleged crime of gender-based political violence, for which they could face up to six years in prison.4 Article 19 has emphasized the importance of protecting freedom of expression while preventing gender-based violence in Mexico.5
In recent years, digital journalists have also faced legal action unrelated to accusations of gender-based political violence. In April 2022, during the previous coverage period, Eduardo Lliteras of online news outlet Infolliteras.com was sued for alleged moral damage by businessman Rafael Acosta Solís, after Lliteras published an article alleging that Solís had stolen a backpack containing documents and money.6 In February 2022, a collective of journalists and representatives from press freedom organizations demanded that authorities stop harassing the press through judicial means, citing cases in recent years in which journalists have been sued for millions of pesos in retaliation for their work.7
During the previous coverage period, in March 2022, journalist Arturo López Herrera of online outlet and Facebook news page La Voz Carmen con Arturo Palomeque was detained by Campeche police and held incommunicado for allegedly parking illegally and “insulting authority.” López Herrera denounced his arrest as retaliation for videos he had published days prior of police official Brayan Torres Pérez, who arrested the journalist over the alleged parking violation, visiting a bar while on duty. Authorities accused López Herrera of resisting arrest and violence against Torres, though videos of the arrest circulating on social media reportedly show Torres using excessive force.8
Online journalists continue to risk arbitrary arrest while covering protests, police abuses, or other newsworthy events. In April 2023, digital journalists Gabriel Aguilar Ay and Silvia Peraza Azueta were arbitrarily detained for approximately four hours after covering a traffic accident in the Quintana Roo state. One of the journalists had taken photos of the scene, and the other had begun a live broadcast, before both were detained by Cozumel municipal police.9 During the previous coverage period, in October 2021, photojournalists Erik Daniel Toxtle Nolasco and Brian Omar Toledo Chavarin of the online news outlet Sinaloa en Línea were arbitrarily detained and physically and verbally assaulted by police while covering the detention of several individuals; police also took one of their cell phones (see C7).10
- 1Article 19, “Voces contra la indiferencia: informe anual 2022 de ARTICLE 19 [Voices Against Indifference: ARTICLE 19 Annual Report 2022],” March 28, 2023, https://articulo19.org/vocescontralaindiferencia/.
- 2Article 19, “Voces contra la indiferencia: informe anual 2022 de ARTICLE 19 [Voices Against Indifference: ARTICLE 19 Annual Report 2022],” March 28, 2023, https://articulo19.org/vocescontralaindiferencia/.
- 3“ARTICLE 19 llama a detener el uso de delitos de violencia política para censurar a la prensa [ARTICLE 19 calls for an end to the use of crimes of political violence to censor the press],” Article 19, October 12, 2022, https://articulo19.org/article-19-lamenta-el-uso-arbitrario-y-despropor….
- 4“Periodistas vinculados a proceso [Journalists linked to the process],” Zeta, October 4, 2022, https://zetatijuana.com/2022/10/periodistas-vinculados-a-proceso/.
- 5Article 19, “Voces contra la indiferencia: informe anual 2022 de ARTICLE 19 [Voices Against Indifference: ARTICLE 19 Annual Report 2022],” March 28, 2023, https://articulo19.org/vocescontralaindiferencia/.
- 6“Denuncia Artículo 19 hostigamiento judicial contra el periodista Eduardo Lliteras en Yucatán” [Article 19 denounces judicial harassment against journalist Eduardo Lliteras in Yucatan], Animal Político, April 20, 2022, https://www.animalpolitico.com/2022/04/denuncia-articulo-19-hostigamien….
- 7Esther Mosqueda, “Periodistas y Organizaciones de la Sociedad Civil, exigen un alto al Acoso Judicial contra la prensa” [Journalists and civil society organizations demand the cease in judicial harassment against the press], Article 19, February 10, 2022, https://articulo19.org/periodistas-y-organizaciones-de-la-sociedad-civi….
- 8Lorenzo Chim, “Detienen al periodista Arturo López por “ultrajes a la autoridad” en Campeche” [Journalist Arturo López detained over ‘insults to authority’ in Campeche], La Jornada, March 15, 2022, https://www.jornada.com.mx/notas/2022/03/15/estados/detienen-policias-a….
- 9Article 19, “Policía municipal de Cozumel detiene arbitrariamente a periodistas [Cozumel municipal police arbitrarily detain journalists],” April 15, 2023, https://articulo19.org/detencion-arbitraria-en-contra-de-la-prensa-por-….
- 10Esther Mosqueda, “Policía de Mazatlán detiene arbitrariamente y golpea a periodistas” [Mazatlan police arbitrarily detains and beats journalists], Article 19, October 15, 2021, https://articulo19.org/policia-de-mazatlan-detiene-arbitrariamente-y-go….
|Does the government place restrictions on anonymous communication or encryption?||4.004 4.004|
Score Change: The score improved from 3 to 4 because the government did not impose significant restrictions on encryption or anonymity for internet users during the coverage period.
Website owners, bloggers, and ordinary users are not required to register with the Mexican government. The government does not generally impose restrictions on anonymity or encryption for internet users.
During the previous coverage period, in April 2022,1 the SCJN struck down the creation of a problematic biometric cell phone registry (PANAUT) that had been established through a reform to the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law passed by Congress in April 2021. The court echoed criticism from digital rights organizations in its ruling, citing PANAUT’s unnecessary infringement on privacy rights and inadequate data safeguards.2
The SCJN suspended the registry in June 2021 at the request of the IFT, which was to oversee the installation, operation, regulation, and maintenance of PANAUT.3 In its request, the IFT claimed that the registry’s mandate required the agency to take on a financial burden that could compromise its ability to fulfill its regulatory duties.4
Users would have been required to join the registry when purchasing a SIM card or activating a new prepaid mobile line. Telecommunications companies would have been required to collect user data, which would include fingerprints or iris recognition as well as the user’s name, address, phone number, nationality, and Unique Population Registry Code (CURP) number, and enter it into the registry. Telecommunications companies would have had two years to collect this data from existing customers. Customers who failed to hand over their data and documentation would have received heavy fines and had their mobile line permanently cancelled.5 The registry would have been made available to “authorities overseeing issues of security and justice” without a court order or other oversight requirements.6
- 1Darinka Rodríguez, “La Suprema Corte de México invalida la creación de un padrón de datos biométricos para usuarios de celulares” [Mexican Supreme Court invalidates the creation of a biometric registry for mobile phone users], El País, April 25, 2022, https://elpais.com/mexico/2022-04-25/la-suprema-corte-de-mexico-invalid….
- 2“Mexico’s president can prevent a privacy disaster: veto the new biometric mobile phone registry,” AccessNow, April 16, 2021, https://www.accessnow.org/mexicos-new-biometric-mobile-phone-registry/; “Senate approves cell phone users registry that will collect biometric data,” Mexico News Daily, April 14, 2021, https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/senate-approves-biometric-cell-phone-u…; Presentan plataforma para que usuarios puedan buscar un amparo contra el padrón de telefonía” [Platform launched to seek an appeal vs the database of mobile users], Latinus, May 20, 2021, https://latinus.us/2021/05/20/presentan-plataforma-para-usuarios-genere…; Cassandra Garrison and Valentine Hilaire, “Mexico's top court strikes down controversial cellphone registry with biometric data,” Reuters, April 25, 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexicos-top-court-strikes-down-c…
- 3“DECRETO por el que se reforman y adicionan diversas disposiciones de la Ley Federal de Telecomunicaciones y Radiodifusión” [DECREE by which various provisions of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law are amended and added], Diario Oficial de la Federación, April 15, 2021, https://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5616165&fecha=16/04/2021; Alessandro Mascellino, “Judge blocks Mexico’s biometric cell phone registry requirement,” Biometric Update, April 21, 2021, https://www.biometricupdate.com/202104/judge-blocks-mexicos-biometric-c…
- 4Eduardo Murillo, “Niega SCJN a INAI y senadores suspensión contra el padrón de telefonía” [SCJN denies INAI and senators suspension against the telephone registry], La Jornada, May 27, 2021, https://www.jornada.com.mx/notas/2021/05/27/politica/niega-scjn-al-inai…; Nicolas Lucas, “Suprema Corte concede al IFT una suspensión contra el Padrón Nacional de Usuarios de Telefonía Móvil” [Supreme Court grants IFT a suspension against the National Register of Mobile Telephone Users], El Economista June 15, 2021, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/empresas/Suprema-Corte-concede-al-IFT-u…
- 5“Senate approves cell phone users registry that will collect biometric data,” Mexico News Daily, April 14, 2021, https://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/senate-approves-biometric-cell-phone-u…
- 6“DECRETO por el que se reforman y adicionan diversas disposiciones de la Ley Federal de Telecomunicaciones y Radiodifusión” [DECREE by which various provisions of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law are amended and added], Diario Oficial de la Federación, April 15, 2021, https://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5616165&fecha=16/04/2021; Alessandro Mascellino, “Judge blocks Mexico’s biometric cell phone registry requirement,” Biometric Update, April 21, 2021, https://www.biometricupdate.com/202104/judge-blocks-mexicos-biometric-c…
|Does state surveillance of internet activities infringe on users’ right to privacy?||1.001 6.006|
The government has used the poor security situation in the country to justify expanding the state’s surveillance powers, with little accountability and oversight. High-profile abuses of digital spying technologies meant for law enforcement purposes continued to emerge during the coverage period, but they have not been thoroughly investigated by authorities.
The Mexican military is reported to be one of the world’s largest users of Pegasus spyware, which can surveil all activities on mobile devices with no apparent signs of a breach.1 Pegasus has been used to target those investigating government corruption and human rights abuses in Mexico.2 A joint investigation by Citizen Lab and the Mexican civil society organization R3D revealed that two human rights defenders, Jorge Santiago Aguirre Espinosa and María Luisa Aguilar Rodríguez, both working at the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Centro PRODH), were targeted by Pegasus between June and September 2022. According to Citizen Lab, the alleged timing of the surveillance suggests that the military was involved in these cases, though it was not able to confirm this. At the time the spyware was apparently active on Aguirre and Aguilar’s devices, Centro PRODH had been investigating past human rights abuses committed by the Mexican Army and providing support for the relatives of those who were forcibly disappeared by the military.3
In October 2022, the #EjércitoEspía investigation, coordinated by several civil society organizations and media outlets, documented three additional cases of suspected military espionage using Pegasus. Human rights defender Raymundo Ramos and two journalists, Ricardo Raphael and one from the outlet Animal Político, were reportedly surveilled with Pegasus between 2019 and 2021.4 The evidence presented in the investigation, which includes forensic analysis by Citizen Lab, confirmed that the victims were targeted with zero-click exploits, which do not require any action from victims and are virtually undetectable.5 All three individuals had recently denounced human rights abuses by the Mexican armed forces, suggesting that the Mexican military is responsible for the illegal spying.6
In March 2023, the same organizations that produced the #EjércitoEspía investigation released new evidence about the surveillance of human rights defender Raymundo Ramos.7 Internal documents obtained from the Secretary of National Defense (SEDENA) appeared to conclusively demonstrate that the military used Pegasus to spy on Ramos through a highly secretive “Military Intelligence Center” (CMI), which lacks any legal basis for spying on civilians. According to the investigation, the CMI operates under the command of military leadership and spied on Ramos in order to disrupt his journalistic investigation into the army’s human rights abuses.8
In May 2023, the New York Times reported that Alejandro Encinas, the country’s under secretary for human rights and a close ally of President López Obrador, had been targeted with Pegasus spyware. Encinas had recently investigated potential abuses by the military and has been publicly critical of the armed forces.9 In June, after the coverage period, the Washington Post published an investigation reporting that Camilo Vicente Ovalle, who coordinates a truth commission about Mexico’s Dirty War as part of Encinas’ office, was also targeted with Pegasus in the latter half of 2022.10
President López Obrador has denied the evidence presented by the organizations and the media outlets, repeatedly claiming that his government does not use Pegasus to spy on Encinas or other figures.11 After the October 2022 investigation was published, López Obrador dismissed claims that the government had spied on journalist Ricardo Raphael because “it would be a waste of time” to do so. He also claimed that the army does not spy, but rather does “intelligence.”12
In response to López Obrador's denials, civil society organizations called on the government to be accountable and transparent about its surveillance activities and accused the president of disseminating disinformation about their spyware investigation.13
Despite these revelations, authorities have been slow to investigate. In January 2023, the INAI ordered SEDENA to carry out a thorough search and provide information related to the contracts that the military signed with the company Comercializadora Antsua, the exclusive supplier of the Pegasus spyware in Mexico.14 Two months later, in March, federal lawmakers announced plans to create a commission to investigate the military’s use of spyware, even as López Obrador continued to deny or downplay the allegations.15
The government was first implicated in the use of Pegasus when the results of the Pegasus Project investigation were published in July 2021. Leaked data from NSO Group, originally accessed by Forbidden Stories and Amnesty International and shared with 15 media organizations, confirmed and expanded upon prior reporting on the Mexican government’s use of Pegasus against critical voices.16 Some 15,000 phone numbers from a leaked list of 50,000—which are presumed to belong to the targets of NSO clients—belonged to people located in Mexico, including journalists and politicians; the Mexican bloc was the largest in the entire list.17 By March 2019, Citizen Lab and Mexican partner organizations had documented at least 25 cases in which journalists, human rights lawyers, activists, and political figures were targeted by Pegasus.18
In November 2021, during the previous coverage period, the FGR announced its first detention in the Pegasus investigation: Juan Carlos García, an employee in one of the dozen private companies that served as intermediaries between the Mexican government and NSO Group. García was accused of spying on a journalist via Pegasus in a way that “affected, limited and undermined her freedom of expression.”19
Officials have access to other surveillance tools with interception capabilities. In April 2023, Citizen Lab reported that Israeli spyware vendor QuaDream had been contracted by several government clients, including Mexico, to provide surveillance technology.20 Like Pegasus, QuaDream is reportedly a zero-click exploit. Previously, in May 2020, three civil society organizations found 21 active international mobile subscriber identity–catchers (IMSI catchers), which can be used to intercept mobile data from all devices in the immediate area, in central Mexico.21 Three of the IMSI catchers were acquired during the López Obrador administration, which had also contracted the surveillance company L3Harris Technologies for over $1 million in March, April, and June 2019.
In December 2020, Citizen Lab published a report detailing the deployment of cyberespionage firm Circles in countries around the world; they noted the apparent existence of 10 Circles systems in Mexico and found that the Mexican navy and the Durango state government possessed internet protocol (IP) addresses connected to Circles operations, some of them active well into 2020.22 In April 2021, El País reported that the FGR had paid $5.6 million to Neolinx de México, across at least four contracts, in order to geolocate cell phones and analyze mass surveillance data.23
The proposed Federal Cybersecurity Law (see B3 and C2), presented in the Chamber of Deputies in April 2023, contains provisions that could expand the government’s surveillance of online activities. For example, Article 25 of the bill orders the cyber police to conduct monitoring and cyberpatrolling of the online sphere in order to prevent “any situation constituting a crime that could put the physical and/or patrimonial integrity of the inhabitants at risk.”24
- 1Natalie Kitroeff and Ronen Bergman, “How Mexico Became the Biggest User of the World’s Most Notorious Spy Tool,” The New York Times, April 18, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/18/world/americas/pegasus-spyware-mexic….
- 2John Scott-Railton, Bill Marczak, Bahr Abdul Razzak, Masashi Crete-Nishihata, and Ron Deibert, “Mexican Journalists, Lawyers, and a Child Targeted with NSO Spyware,” Citizen Lab, June 19, 2017, https://citizenlab.ca/2017/06/reckless-exploit-mexico-nso/.
- 3Bill Marczak, John Scott-Railton, Bahr Abdul Razzak, and Ron Deibert, “Triple Threat: NSO Group’s Pegasus Spyware Returns in 2022 with a Trio of iOS 15 and iOS 16 Zero-Click Exploit Chains,” The Citizen Lab, April 18, 2023, https://citizenlab.ca/2023/04/nso-groups-pegasus-spyware-returns-in-202….
- 4“Ejército Espía: Capítulo I [Spy Army: Chapter I],” Ejército Espía, October 2022, https://ejercitoespia.r3d.mx/ejercito-espia/.
- 5John Scott-Railton, Bill Marczak, Bahr Abdul Razzak, Siena Anstis, Paolo Nigro Herrero, and Ron Deibert, ”New Pegasus Spyware Abuses Identified in Mexico”, Citizen Lab, October 2, 2022, https://citizenlab.ca/2022/10/new-pegasus-spyware-abuses-identified-in-…
- 6#EjércitoEspía: Nuevos casos de espionaje con Pegasus en México no deben quedar en la impunidad [#TheSpyingArmy: New Pegasus spying cases in Mexico must not go unpunished],” Article 19, R3D, and Social Tic, October 3, 2022, https://articulo19.org/ejercitoespia-nuevos-casos-de-espionaje-con-pega….
- 7“Estructura secreta del Ejército espió con Pegasus a Raymundo Ramos, con pleno conocimiento del Secretario de la Defensa [Secret Army structure spied on Raymundo Ramos with Pegasus, with full knowledge of the Secretary of Defense],” Article 19, March 7, 2023, https://articulo19.org/estructura-secreta-del-ejercito-espio-con-pegasu….
- 8“Ejercito Espía: así utilizó Sedena el programa Pegasus contra un defensor de derechos [Spy Army: this is how Sedena used the Pegasus program against a rights defender],” Aristegui Noticias, March 7, 2023, https://aristeguinoticias.com/0703/mexico/ejercito-espia-asi-utilizo-se….
- 9Natalie Kitroeff and Ronen Bergman, “He Was Investigating Mexico’s Military. Then the Spying Began,” The New York Times, May 22, 2023, https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/22/world/americas/mexico-spying-pegasus….
- 10Oscar Lopez and Mary Beth Sheridan, “He’s leading Mexico’s probe of the Dirty War. Who’s spying on him?”, The Washington Post, June 3, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/03/mexico-pegasus-dirty-wa….
- 11Dalila Escobar, “AMLO confirma y minimiza espionaje a Alejandro Encinas: ‘le dije que no le diera importancia’ [AMLO confirms and minimizes spying on Alejandro Encinas: ‘I told him not to give it importance’],” Proceso, May 23, 2023, https://www.proceso.com.mx/nacional/2023/5/23/amlo-confirma-minimiza-es….
- 12Carlos Álvarez Acevedo, “AMLO niega espionaje; sería ‘pérdida de tiempo’, dice; SEDENA tiene “inteligencia”, señala [AMLO denies spying; it would be 'waste of time', he says; SEDENA has "intelligence", he says], Semanario Zeta, October 4, 2022, https://zetatijuana.com/2022/10/amlo-niega-espionaje-seria-perdida-de-t…
- 13"Organizaciones rechazamos la desinformación gubernamental sobre la investigación #EjércitoEspía [Organizations reject government disinformation about the #TheSpyingArmy investigation.],“ R3D, October 12, 2022, https://r3d.mx/2022/10/12/organizaciones-rechazamos-la-desinformacion-g….
- 14Georgina Zerega, “El Instituto de Transparencia obliga al Ejército a publicar los contratos por el ‘sotfware’ espía Pegasus [The Transparency Institute forces the Army to publish the contracts for the Pegasus spy 'sotfware'], El País, January 26, 2023 https://elpais.com/mexico/2023-01-26/el-instituto-de-transparencia-obli…
- 15Oscar Lopez, “Mexico to investigate alleged human rights abuses by military after spying claims,” The Guardian, March 15, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/mar/15/mexico-to-investigate-all….
- 16Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Paul Lewis, David Pegg, Sam Cutler, Nina Lakhani and Michael Safi, “Revealed: leak uncovers global abuse of cyber-surveillance weapon,” The Guardian, July 18, 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/18/revealed-leak-uncovers-gl…
- 17Dana Priest, Craig Timberg, and Souad Mekhennet, “Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide,” The Washington Post, July 18, 2021, https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/interactive/2021/nso-spyw…
- 18John Scott-Railton, Bill Marczak, Siena Anstis, Bahr Abdul Razzak, Masashi Crete-Nishihata, and Ron Deibert, “Mexican Journalists Investigating Cartels Targeted with NSO Spyware Following Assassination of Colleague,” Citizen Lab, November 27, 2018, https://citizenlab.ca/2018/11/mexican-journalists-investigating-cartels….
- 19Santos Cid, Alejandro. “El espionaje del ‘caso Pegasus’ en México se cobra su primer detenido.” El País, November 8, 2021, https://elpais.com/mexico/2021-11-09/el-espionaje-del-caso-pegasus-en-m….
- 20Bill Marczak, John Scott-Railton, Astrid Perry, Noura Al-Jizawi, Siena Anstis, Zoe Panday, Emma Lyon, Bahr Abdul Razzak, and Ron Deibert, “Sweet QuaDreams: A First Look at Spyware Vendor QuaDream’s Exploits, Victims, and Customers,” Citizen Lab, April 11, 2023, https://citizenlab.ca/2023/04/spyware-vendor-quadream-exploits-victims-….
- 21Ricardo Balderas, “Fake Antenna, el espionaje a celulares que pasó de EPN a AMLO” [Fake Antenna, mobile pone surveillance that started with EPN and continued under AMLO], PODER, May 30, 2020, https://www.rindecuentas.org/reportajes/2020/05/30/fake-antenna-el-espi….
- 22Bill Marczak, John Scott-Railton, Siddharth Prakash Rao, Siena Anstis, and Ron Deibert, “Running in Circles: Uncovering the Clients of Cyberespionage Firm Circles,” Citizen Lab, December 1, 2020, https://citizenlab.ca/2020/12/running-in-circles-uncovering-the-clients….
- 23Zorayda Gallegos, “La Fiscalía de México ha contratado en los dos últimos años programas para el espionaje masivo de teléfonos móviles” [The Prosecutor's Office of Mexico has contracted in the last two years programs for the massive espionage of mobile phones], El País, April 14, 2021, https://elpais.com/mexico/2021-04-14/la-fiscalia-de-mexico-ha-contratad….
- 24Gaceta Palamentaria, “Iniciativa con proyecto de decreto por el que se expide de Ley Federal de Ciberseguridad [Initiative with project decree issuing the Federal Cybersecurity Law],” April 25, 2023, http://gaceta.diputados.gob.mx/PDF/65/2023/abr/20230425-II-2.pdf.
|Does monitoring and collection of user data by service providers and other technology companies infringe on users’ right to privacy?||4.004 6.006|
Article 189 of the 2014 Telecommunications Law forces companies to provide users’ geolocation information and other communications metadata to police, military, or intelligence agencies in real time. Article 190 requires providers to maintain records of their users’ metadata for a period of two years, and grants security agencies access to these records at any time.1 In 2016, the SCJN upheld the constitutionality of the law’s requirements for data retention and real-time geolocation. However, the ruling established the need for a judicial warrant to access historical metadata.2
Beginning in March 2023 and through the end of the coverage period, the INAI, Mexico’s data protection authority and access to information body, was unable to function properly due to the lack of five-person quorum of commissioners. Despite a federal judge ordering the Senate to appoint a commissioner to at least one of the INAI’s three vacant seats,3 the Senate failed to do so at the end of May, after MORENA legislators accused the judiciary of interfering in its affairs.4 As of June, nearly 6,000 cases were awaiting resolution by the INAI.5
Amidst the deadlock in May, Human Rights Watch called on the government to appoint commissioners, emphasizing that the INAI’s inability to function left Mexicans vulnerable to potential abuses of their personal data.6 The Senate’s failure to appoint the INAI commissioners comes amid calls from López Obrador and his allies to dissolve the body entirely and broader efforts by the president to undermine independent regulatory bodies (see A5).7
In August 2023, after the coverage period, the second chamber of the SCJN ruled that the INAI could meet with only four commissioners until a five-member quorum is appointed, allowing it to begin processing outstanding cases.8
Reforms to the criminal procedural code in 2016 required a judicial warrant for government entities to access geolocation data, with some exceptions, such as kidnapping cases in which a person’s life or physical integrity is in danger.9 The 2016 SCJN ruling also clarified which authorities can access user data; it included federal prosecutors, federal police, and the agency directly in charge of applying and coordinating the National Security Law.
An April 2021 reform of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law established a biometric cell phone registry that tasked telecommunications companies with collecting biometric data; the SCJN ultimately ruled the registry unconstitutional in April 2022 (see C4).10 The database would have been accessible to authorities overseeing public security and justice.11
During the coverage period, Congress again moved to create a biometric database that could undermine the right to privacy. A new bill that the Senate will examine, which was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in March 2023, would empower the Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB) to create and manage a centralized biometric database, the National Registry and Identity System (SID).12 The SID would require individuals to give biometric information to the SEGOB while registering activities at the Civil Registry, meaning that citizens would effectively have no means to consent to the collection of their personal biometric data.13 Civil society organizations and some opposition lawmakers have raised concerns that the bill does not clearly specify which biometric data would be collected and which entities would have access to it, posing a risk to privacy and the protection of personal data.14
- 1See Articles 189-190 of Ley Federal de Telecomunicaciones y Radiodifusión.
- 2“Inviolabilidad del contenido de las comunicaciones y de los datos que permitan identificarlas: segunda sala” [Inviolability of the content of the communications and of the data the allows to identify them: second room], Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación (SCJN), May 4, 2016, http://www.internet2.scjn.gob.mx/red2/comunicados/comunicado.asp?id=4301.
- 3“Jueza ordena que Senado nombre a comisionados del INAI [Judge orders Senate to name INAI commissioners], Expansion, May 2, 2023, https://politica.expansion.mx/mexico/2023/05/02/jueza-ordena-que-senado….
- 4Morena bloquea periodo para nombrar a comisionados del INAI [Morena blocks period to appoint INAI commissioners]”, Aristegui Noticias, May 31st, 2023, https://aristeguinoticias.com/3105/mexico/morena-bloquea-periodo-para-n….
- 5“Crisis en INAI: suma 6 mil pendientes y pide cuando menos, un Comisionado [Crisis in INAI: 6,000 pending and asks for at least one Commissioner]”, Quadratin, June 20, 2023, https://mexico.quadratin.com.mx/crisis-en-inai-suma-6-mil-pendientes-y-…
- 6Human Rights Watch, “Mexico: Public Accountability, Privacy Under Threat,“ May 24, 2023, https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/05/24/mexico-public-accountability-privac….
- 7Anthony Esposito and Raul Cortes Fernandez, “Mexican president backs plan to ditch transparency institute,” Reuters, April 28, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexican-president-backs-plan-dit….
- 8Mexico News Daily, “Supreme Court revives transparency agency after months of inactivity,” August 24, 2023, https://mexiconewsdaily.com/politics/supreme-court-revives-transparency….
- 9Código Nacional de Procedimientos Penales, updated June 17, 2016, http://www.oas.org/juridico/PDFs/mesicic5_mex_ane_15.pdf.
- 10Darinka Rodríguez, “La Suprema Corte de México invalida la creación de un padrón de datos biométricos para usuarios de celulares” [Mexican Supreme Court invalidates the creation of a biometric registry for mobile phone users], El País, April 25, 2022, https://elpais.com/mexico/2022-04-25/la-suprema-corte-de-mexico-invalid….
- 11“DECRETO por el que se reforman y adicionan diversas disposiciones de la Ley Federal de Telecomunicaciones y Radiodifusión” [DECREE by which various provisions of the Federal Telecommunications and Broadcasting Law are amended and added], Diario Oficial de la Federación, April 15, 2021, https://dof.gob.mx/nota_detalle.php?codigo=5616165&fecha=16/04/2021
- 12Enrique Gómez, “Segob concentrará datos biométricos de población [Segob will concentrate biometric data of the population]”, https://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/segob-concentrara-datos-biometric…
- 13La aprobación del Sistema Nacional de Registro e Identidad atenta contra el derecho a la privacidad [Approval of the National Registration and Identity System violates privacy rights], R3D, Marcha 21, 2023, https://r3d.mx/2023/03/21/la-aprobacion-del-sistema-nacional-de-registr…
- 14Luz Rangel, “Ley sobre registros civiles da a Segob datos biométricos y pone en riesgo la privacidad [Law on civil registries gives Segob biometric data and puts privacy at risk]”, Animal Político, March 21, 2023 https://www.animalpolitico.com/verificacion-de-hechos/te-explico/ley-re…
|Are individuals subject to extralegal intimidation or physical violence by state authorities or any other actor in relation to their online activities?||0.000 5.005|
Journalists for online outlets continue to face threats and violence from organized criminal groups, members of local governments, and other actors. Mexico remains the most dangerous country in Latin America for journalists and one of the most dangerous in the world.1
Article 19 documented 696 aggressions against journalists in 2022,2 making it the most violent year for journalists since the organization started tracking in 2007. These figures include 181 instances of intimidation and harassment, 151 threats, 48 physical attacks, and 12 murders of journalists in potential relation to their work. Of all reported attacks against the press, 196 (28.19 percent) occurred in the digital sphere, including online intimidation and harassment, digital threats, and attempts to hack journalists' accounts.3 Nearly 49 percent of the total attacks against journalists related to coverage of corruption and politics, while 27.59 percent were linked to security and justice issues.4
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) separately reported that 13 journalists, including digital reporters,5 were killed in 2022, making it the deadliest year on record for journalists in Mexico.6 During the coverage period, at least three journalists were killed in potential retaliation for their online reporting or activities, though a motive has not been confirmed in any of the cases.
In June 2022, Antonio de la Cruz was fatally shot by multiple attackers while in his car. De la Cruz worked as a reporter for the newspaper Expreso and did not typically cover politically sensitive topics for the outlet, mainly focusing on agriculture and the environment.7 However, according to media reports, de la Cruz had used Twitter to criticize the state and local government and had apparently been asked by authorities to remove critical tweets. Federal prosecutors opened an investigation into the case, including any potential links between the murder and de la Cruz's criticism of the government.8
In August 2022, journalist Juan Arjón López was found dead after he had been missing for several days. Arjón was the founder of the Facebook-based outlet A Qué Le Temes, which he used to report on local crime and politics.9 Authorities opened an investigation into whether Arjón's murder was related to his journalistic work, but its exact motive remains unknown. The narrative presented by the authorities has reportedly attempted to stigmatize Arjón, focusing on his multiple sources of employment.10
That same month, journalist Fredid Román was fatally shot by two assailants outside his home. Román was a veteran journalist who had worked for several outlets. According to reports, hours before he was killed, Román had published a column on Facebook that had raised concerns regarding the state's potential cover-up of the 2014 disappearance of 43 students and the work of the subsequent truth commission. Román criticized several national and regional officials in the piece.11 Despite an investigation, the motive for the killing remains unknown.12
During the previous coverage period, the CPJ reported that three journalists were killed in direct retaliation for their work. In January 2022, freelance photographer Alfonso Margarito Martínez Esquivel, who published photographs for digital and print news outlets, was murdered in Tijuana. According to prosecutors, the leader of a criminal gang ordered Martínez’s killing after mistakenly believing that he had taken photos related to the group. In December, two people were sentenced to 25 years in prison for conducting the murder, though the trial of the gang leader who allegedly ordered the murder remains ongoing.13
In February 2022, Heber López Vásquez, the founder and editor of the NoticiasWeb and RCP Noticias news websites, was killed by a group of at least two men in Oaxaca. Both NoticiasWeb and RCP Noticias report on news, politics, and crime on their Facebook pages. The day before he was killed, López had published an article on NoticiasWeb that accused a former municipal official of corruption and coercing voters; the official’s brother is one of two murder suspects in the case.14 As of January 2023, neither suspect had been tried.15
In March 2022, digital journalist Armando Linares López, co-founder and editor of the Monitor Michoacán outlet, was murdered in Zitácuaro. Monitor Michoacán had previously investigated alleged cases of corruption involving local authorities, and Linares had reported receiving death threats after another journalist at the outlet, Roberto Toledo Barrera, was murdered in January 2022.16 No one has been charged in connection with Linares’ murder, and Monitor Michoacán ceased operations in March 2022.17
Other forms of physical attacks against online journalists from security forces, politicians, and civilians were reported during the coverage period, as were online threats of violence. In February 2023, journalist Águeda Barojas Ontiveros, who runs the Facebook-based outlet Portal de la Noticia, received intimidating messages on social media from a profile featuring photos of armed men.18 In September 2022, Vicente Serrano, the director of digital outlet Sin Censura, received three threats online, including direct messages that mention murder and use homophobic language.19 In July 2022, journalist Marina del Carmen Morales Carvallo, who covers local government in Veracruz state, received social media messages threatening to “hunt [her] down” and stage a shooting at her office if she continued her work.20
In April 2023, an unknown individual set the car of Fernando Rodríguez González, the director of digital media Noticias en la Web, on fire in Ciudad Acuña, Coahuila.21 The journalist had previously received threats before the property destruction, including one that referenced the June 2021 murder of Saúl Tijerina Rentería.
In February 2023, members of the Action and Reaction Police (PAR) intimidated Gloria Ruiz, the director of the news site 4pnoticias, and physically assaulted her bodyguards.22
In November 2022, Clever Rea, director of the digital outlet Reacción de Guerrero and a reporter for El Despertar de la Costa, was assaulted by police officers after he was arbitrarily detained in the Guerrero state. One officer reportedly hit Rea on the head with his gun, requiring him to receive three stitches at a hospital. According to Rea, the police officers mocked his work as a journalist.23
In June 2022, two journalists from the digital media outlet Paginabierta, Ronny Aguilar and Rodrigo Bastos, were physically assaulted and obstructed by police officers in Campeche. The journalists had been documenting apparent police abuses at an early-morning alcohol checkpoint in the city.24 The police demanded the journalists to leave, claiming they were not identified as press, and forcefully pushed them back.25
Online gender-based violence has become a critical problem in the country, affecting women journalists, politicians, activists, and organizations. A survey by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography found that nearly 36 percent of female users over the age of 12 faced online sexual harassment in 2020.26 Activist groups have documented significant abuse directed at women, including online hate speech against those who use social media to denounce any type of violence; coordinated efforts to take down the websites, social media profiles, and posts of women activists, organizations, and collectives; and smear campaigns, extortion attempts, and nonconsensual dissemination of intimate content that similarly target women.27
In March 2023, Dianeth Pérez Arreola, an independent journalist and director of the digital outlet Brújula News, was attacked with a smear and doxing campaign on social media after she published articles documenting public advertising funds spent by the Baja California state legislature and the Mexicali City Council.28
- 1“Mexico,” Reporters Without Borders, accessed September 16, 2020, https://rsf.org/en/mexico.
- 2“Voces contra la indiferencia [ Voices against indifference ],” Artículo 19, p. 38, accessed May 20, 2022, https://articulo19.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Voces-contra-la-Indif….
- 3Op. Cit. “Voces contra la indiferencia…”, p. 68
- 4Op. Cit. “Voces contra la indiferencia…”, p. 51
- 5”Explore CPJ’s database of attacks on the press,” Committee to Protect Journalists, accessed August 2023, https://cpj.org/data/.
- 6Jennifer Dunham, “Deadly year for journalists as killings rose sharply in 2022,” Committee to Project Journalists, January 24, 2023, https://cpj.org/reports/2023/01/deadly-year-for-journalists-as-killings….
- 7Committee to Protect Journalists, “Antonio de la Cruz,” accessed August 2023, https://cpj.org/data/people/antonio-de-la-cruz/.
- 8CBS News, “Slain Mexican reporter was asked to remove tweets critical of government, coworker says: ‘Our colleagues feel very exposed,’” July 1, 2022, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/antonio-de-la-cruz-reporter-killed-may-be-….
- 9Committee to Protect Journalists, “Juan Arjón López,” accessed August 2023, https://cpj.org/data/people/juan-arjon-lopez/.
- 10"Repuntan asesinatos de periodistas en agosto; urgen acciones coordinadas por el Estado mexicano [Journalist murders spike in August; coordinated actions by Mexican government urged]”, Artículo 19, August 31, 2022, https://articulo19.org/repuntan-asesinatos-de-periodistas-en-agosto-urg…
- 11Andrea Blanco, “Mexican journalist killed hours after writing about official’s role in state-sponsored disappearance of 43 students,” The Independent, August 24, 2022, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/fredid-roman-death-me…; Ana Cucalón, “Fiscalía de Guerrero investiga el homicidio del periodista mexicano Fredid Román [Guerrero Prosecutor's Office investigates the murder of Mexican journalist Fredid Román],” CNN en Español, August 23, 2022, https://cnnespanol.cnn.com/2022/08/23/fredid-roman-homicidio-periodista….
- 12Committee to Protect Journalists, “Fredid Román Román,” accessed August 2023, https://cpj.org/data/people/fredid-roman-roman/.
- 13Committee to Protect Journalists, “Alfonso Margarito Martínez Esquivel,” accessed August 2023, https://cpj.org/data/people/alfonso-margarito-martinez-esquivel/.
- 14“Mexican journalist Heber López shot and killed in Oaxaca, suspects arrested,” Committee to Protect Journalists, February 12, 2022, https://cpj.org/2022/02/mexican-journalist-heber-lopez-shot-and-killed-….
- 15Sarah Kinosian, “In Mexico, a reporter published a story. The next day he was shot dead,” Reuters, January 21, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-reporter-published-story-….
- 16Committee to Protect Journalists, “Armando Linares López,” accessed September 2023, https://cpj.org/data/people/armando-linares-lopez/.
- 17“Monitor Michoacán closed after murders of journalists Roberto Toledo and Armando Linares,” Infobae, March 18, 2022, https://www.infobae.com/en/2022/03/18/monitor-michoacan-closed-after-mu….
- 18“Periodista de Sonora recibe amenazas en redes sociales [Sonora journalist receives threats on social networks ]”, ARTICLE19, February 16, 2023, https://articulo19.org/periodista-de-sonora-recibe-amenazas-en-redes-so…
- 19“Persisten amenazas e intimidaciones contra el periodista Vicente Serrano [Threats and intimidations against journalist Vicente Serrano persist],” Article 19, September 21, 2022, https://articulo19.org/amenazan-e-intimidan-a-vicente-serrano/.
- 20Periodista recibe amenazas debido a sus coberturas sobre política local en Veracruz [Journalist receives threats due to her coverage of local politics in Veracruz]”, https://articulo19.org/periodista-recibe-amenazas-debido-a-sus-cobertur…
- 21“Queman vehículo del director del medio «Noticias en la Web», en Coahuila [Vehicle of the director of the media "Noticias en la Web" burned in Coahuila ], Artículo 19, April 3, 2023, https://articulo19.org/queman-vehiculo-del-director-del-medio-noticias-…
- 22“Policía de Acción y Reacción de Coahuila golpea a escoltas e intimida a periodista en Acuña [Coahuila Action and Reaction Police beat bodyguards and intimidate journalist in Acuña ],” Artículo 19, March 1, 2023, https://articulo19.org/policia-de-accion-y-reaccion-de-coahuila-golpea-….
- 23“Policías estatales de Guerrero detienen arbitrariamente y lesionan a periodista en Atoyac [Guerrero state police arbitrarily detain and injure journalist in Atoyac],” Artículo 19, https://articulo19.org/policias-estatales-de-guerrero-detienen-arbitrar….
- 24“Agresión policíaca en reten de alcoholemia del centro historico [Police aggression at the breathalyzer checkpoint in the historic downtown area],” Paginabierta, June 4, 2022, https://www.facebook.com/watch/?extid=CL-UNK-UNK-UNK-AN_GK0T-GK1C&v=426….
- 25“Policía estatal de Campeche debe respetar el ejercicio de libertad de expresión de la prensa y ciudadanía [Campeche state police must respect the exercise of freedom of expression of the press and the public],” Artículo 19, June 6, 2022, https://articulo19.org/policia-estatal-de-campeche-debe-respetar-el-eje….
- 26”Módulo sobre ciberacoso 2021” [Module on online harassment 2020], Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), July 15, 2022, https://www.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/saladeprensa/boletines/2022/mociba/….
- 27Anaiz Zamora, “Preocupaciones sobre violencia en línea contra las mujeres que compartimos a la ONU” [Concerns over online violence against women we share with the UN], Luchadoras, December 18, 2017, https://luchadoras.mx/informe-onu/.
- 28“Dianeth Pérez es víctima de campaña de desprestigio tras publicar información de transparencia [Dianeth Perez is victim of smear campaign after publishing transparency information],” Artículo 19, March 30, 2023, https://articulo19.org/dianeth-perez-es-victima-de-campana-de-despresti….
|Are websites, governmental and private entities, service providers, or individual users subject to widespread hacking and other forms of cyberattack?||1.001 3.003|
Technical attacks, such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and malware infections, have become a central tactic in attempts to suppress freedom of expression in Mexico, and perpetrators are generally able to act with impunity.1
Journalists and activists have frequently reported cases of cyberattacks, often in retaliation for their focus on corruption or human rights issues. Throughout 2022, Article 19 documented 3 DDoS and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and 29 instances of unauthorized access against journalists and their outlets.2 In April 2023, for example, the feminist news site SemMéxico was hacked by right-wing extremists who successfully gained control of the outlet’s server. The extremist hackers, called the “1915 Team,” targeted the outlet for its feminist reporting, claiming to be “protectors of religion and the homeland.”3
In September 2022 the self-styled hacktivist group “Guacamaya” obtained millions of emails and military documents from Mexico's military.4 The exposed information, around six terabytes (TB), includes intelligence details and other sensitive information gathered from between 2016 and September 2022. The information contained in the leaked documents, shared only with journalists and researchers, has been used to support journalistic investigations in the public interest, such as the #EjércitoEspía investigation documenting the use of Pegasus spyware in Mexico (see C5).5
Guacamaya was reportedly able to exploit SEDENA’s server because the military failed to apply the necessary security patches, leaving highly sensitive information vulnerable for 11 months.6 In March 2023 Jesús "N", a lieutenant colonel, was arrested in relation to the hacking and charged for the "violation of military duties, in the form of loss of military information."7
Critical entities, including financial institutions, are also subject to hacking in Mexico. In March 2022, during the previous coverage period, Mexican bank Citibanamex was among a number of companies affected by a data breach of Argentine IT and software development company Globant.8 Previously, in January 2021, a user on an online forum offered to sell information from three databases, including data from Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria and Santander, as well as from 42 million users of Mexico’s Social Benefits Institute. In December 2020, the same user had offered a database of 60 million Telcel users. Others have offered similar databases from different public and private services in the country.9 Researchers believe the data was stolen by compromising the servers of either the companies or their providers.10
- 1“Aumentan los ataques digitales contra medios de comunicación en México: Google” [Digital attacks against journalists and media on Mexico are on the rise: Google], Animal Político, October 14, 2016, https://www.animalpolitico.com/2016/10/ataques-digitales-contra-medios-….
- 2“Voces contra la indiferencia [ Voices against indifference ],” Artículo 19, p.38, accessed May 20, 2022, https://articulo19.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Voces-contra-la-Indif….
- 3Jennifer Nava, “SemMéxico, portal de noticias de corte feminista, recibió amenazas y fue hackeado [SemMéxico, a feminist news portal, received threats and was hacked],” April 19, 2023, https://www.infobae.com/mexico/2023/04/19/semmexico-portal-de-noticias-….
- 4"¿Qué es el grupo 'Guacamaya' y qué datos sensibles filtró de la Sedena? [What is the 'Guacamaya' group and what sensitive data did it leak from the Sedena?], Eme equis, September 30, 2022, https://www.m-x.com.mx/al-dia/que-es-el-grupo-guacamaya-y-que-datos-sen…
- 5“Guacamaya Leaks: 5 revelaciones del hackeo masivo que sufrió el ejército de México [Guacamaya Leaks: 5 revelations of the massive hacking suffered by Mexico's military], BBC Mundo, October 6, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-63167331; Guacamaya Leaks: Sedena tenía en la mira a la normal de Ayotzinapa previo a desaparición de los 43 | Documentos [Guacamaya Leaks: Sedena had the Ayotzinapa Normal School in its sights prior to the disappearance of the 43 | Documents], Aristegui Noticias, March 11, 2023, https://aristeguinoticias.com/1103/mexico/guacamaya-leaks-sedena-tenia-….
- 6“Guacamaya Leaks: 5 revelaciones del hackeo masivo que sufrió el ejército de México [Guacamaya Leaks: 5 revelations of the massive hacking suffered by Mexico's military],” BBC Mundo, October 6, 2022, https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-63167331
- 7Elías Camhaji, “Detenido el primer jefe militar por la filtración masiva de Guacamaya contra el Ejército mexicano [First military chief arrested for massive Guacamaya leak against Mexican Army]”, El País, March 28, 2023, https://elpais.com/mexico/2023-03-29/detenido-el-primer-jefe-militar-po…
- 8Rodrigo Riquelme, “Globant, proveedor de Citibanamex y Coca-Cola, confirma hackeo” [Globant, Citibanamex and Coca-Cola provider, confirms hacking]. El Economista, March 30, 2022, https://www.eleconomista.com.mx/tecnologia/Globant-proveedor-de-Citiban….
- 9“A la venta, bases de datos de BBVA, Santander e IMSS con millones de registros” [For sale: BBVA, Santander and IMSS databases with millions of data points], Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales, January 26, 2021, https://r3d.mx/2021/01/26/a-la-venta-bases-de-datos-de-bbva-santander-e….
- 10“BBVA Bancomer, Santander: Hackeo de 4 millones de clientes. Usuarios deben contactar a bancos y asegurar su dinero y datos” [BBVA Bancomer, Santander: 4 million customers hacked. Users must contact banks and ensure their money and data], Noticias de Seguridad Informática, January 25, 2021, https://noticiasseguridad.com/hacking-incidentes/bbva-bancomer-santande….
See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.See More
Global Freedom Score60 100 partly free
Internet Freedom Score62 100 partly free
Freedom in the World StatusPartly Free