Reform bill to regulate the activity of social networks in Mexico.

On February 8, 2021, a parliamentary group introduced to Mexican Senate, a bill to reform the Federal Law of Telecommunications and Broadcasting (LFTR), in order to supposedly establish the foundations and general principles for the protection of freedom of speech in social networks, as well as to provide the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) with the necessary attributions in order to guarantee the exercise of such human right in cyberspace, as well as to establish clear limits to the owners of social networks with respect to the suspension and cancellation of user accounts, contributing to the legal security of users and service providers.

The explanatory statement of Mr. Ricardo Monreal, leader of the parliamentary group, exposes the need to regulate the owners of social networks, mainly regarding the temporary or definitive blocking and suspension of user accounts, for the benefit and protection of the freedom of expression.

The purpose of this initiative is to require and oblige social network service providers operating with more than one million users, to request authorization from the IFT, in order to provide their services in Mexican territory.

In order to obtain this authorization, service providers will be bound to submit to the consideration of the IFT, the terms and conditions that will regulate their social network, including mechanisms and procedures for the temporary or definitive suspension or cancellation of user accounts; as well as complying with the parameters established by Law.

Although the providers may permanently eliminate or suspend an account, they must have a department specialized in human rights that may evaluate the risks derived from such determination, and it should only proceed when the activities of any user incur in any of the following causes:

  • I. It is proven that, in terms of Articles 6 and 7 of the Mexican Constitution, the message or content disseminated, including fake news, attacks morality and public order, private life and rights of third parties; provokes a crime or disturbs public order;
  • II. A violation of minors’ rights is accredited;
  • III. The dissemination of hatred speech messages is proven; and
  • IV. Personal data is disclosed in violation of the provisions of the applicable laws.

The intention of this bill is to create a mixed scheme of regulation of social networks, in which the owners of the social networks along with their users, solve any issue related to the suspension or cancellation of accounts and removal of content, but at the same time, considering the human right of access to justice, it is intended that such procedure is also regulated by law, so that the determinations of the owners of the social networks are subject to appeal through an administrative or judicial procedure.

The determination issued by the provider regarding the cancellation or suspension of a user’s account may be challenged through an internal procedure adopted by the provider, and made known to the users through the terms and conditions, with prior authorization from the IFT. The outcome of such procedure shall be communicated to the user within a time period not exceeding 24 hours.

It is also important to note that in the event that the resolution is unfavorable to the user or that the provider does not issue a resolution, a complaint may be filed before the IFT, and once a ruling is issued by the IFT, it may be further challenged through an Amparo suit.

In the event of non-compliance with the proposed regulations, this bill establishes the possibility of sanctioning social network service providers with a fine ranging from 1 to 1,000,000 UMAS (approximately $4,344,000 USD).

At OLIVARES, we will closely follow the discussion process of this bill at Mexican Congress, in order to keep our clients duly informed.

Luis C. Schmidt; Gustavo Alcocer; Abraham Díaz

who can be found at the following number: +52 55 5322 3000.

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