At the beginning of July, former Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the candidate for Mexico’s ruling Morena Party at the 2024 presidential elections, Marcelo Ebrard, described his plans for the “safest Mexico in history.” His plan is called the Angel Plan.
It consists of eight technologies to strengthen the public security duties already carried out by the National Guard. It involves integrating facial recognition technology and artificial intelligence (“AI”) analytics into urban surveillance cameras to detect criminal activity and analyse mobility patterns across the country.
Some are concerned as the plan involves granting the National Guard unprecedented surveillance power, which may inadvertently impinge upon citizens’ freedom of mobility and overall privacy.
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The National Guard was created in 2019, in the first months of López Obrador’s presidency, to replace Mexico’s ineffective and often corrupt local law enforcement agencies.
The National Guard began with 61,000 men and women drawn from Mexico’s military police, naval police and federal police. At the time, one of the concerns human rights groups expressed was about the growing militarisation of Mexico’s security forces.
In September 2022, the Mexican Congress approved the transfer of the National Guard to the Sedena, or Ministry of National Defence, which is the government department responsible for managing Mexico’s Army and Air Forces.
In April 2023, the High Court invalidated Congress’ approval which transferred the operational and administrative control of the National Guard to the Sedena. The justices said that the Executive had until 1 January 2024 for the Guard to go back to the umbrella of the Security Secretariat, under which it had originally been formed.
The Angel Plan
On 8 July, Ebrard posted a video clip on Twitter showing a symbol that appears to be wings and the name of the plan, A.N.G.E.L.
On 10 July, he posted a tweet showing eight features of the plan: unification of facial recognition technologies in Mexico, geolocators, detection of weapons, morphological recognition to analyse behaviour patterns such as a person’s gait, improved technology to track motor vehicles, extending the use of drones, personal cameras on National Guard personnel that transmit in real-time and a database which uses AI to collect and cross-reference all the data gathered by the other seven technologies.
The Angel Plan has raised concerns among many. For example, Juan Manuel Aguilar a researcher at UNAM, has voiced concerns over its potential infringement on digital human rights and the promotion of militarisation. Key issues such as internet censorship, invasion of privacy and the risk of cybersecurity prosecution militarisation need to be revisited to establish a more balanced legal framework.
Another is Alberto Friedmann, President of CANIETI, who said: “This law is categorised as a national security law but it is not only about national security; it covers security in the entire concept of society.” Moreover, Friedmann warned Mexican citizens that granting greater powers to security officials in the country may give them the opportunity of becoming invasive and pose a threat to the privacy of both companies and civil society.
And a Twitter user responded to Ebrard’s 10 July tweet with the comment: “In China, it is used to search for political dissidents. Apart from the fact that they pay influencers and paleros to defend their government outside the country and defend their dystopia. The worst of the public and private even in health. Those who support him are either fools or tyrants, or a mixture of both.”
Sources for this article include:
- Marcelo Ebrard presents his security proposal: “ We are going to enjoy the safest Mexico in history ” El Pais, 10 July 2023
- Plan Angel Raises Cybersecurity Concerns, Mexico Business, 25 July 2023
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