The Mexican government has decided that the way to take control of spiralling organised crime in the country is to take away everyone’s mobile phones.
According to Reuters, tens of millions of Mexicans could find their mobiles disconnected this weekend if the government goes ahead with a new law meant to fight crime by forcing people to tell the government who they are.
For the last few weeks government radio and television have been packed full of adverts urging Mexicans to register their mobiles by sending their personal details as a text message.
Yesterday it was revealed that more than 30 million lines remained unregistered. The deadline is Saturday.
America Movil, which is controlled by billionaire Carlos Slim, is begging senators to extend the deadline for implementing the law.
The big idea of the law was to to stop criminals from using unidentified mobiles for extortion and to negotiate ransoms in kidnappings.
America Movil’s head of institutional relations, Guillermo Ferrer told Reuters that more than 30 million people will lose their only means of communication.
It could be particularly unpleasant for those who have been kidnapped. The kidnappers will suddenly lose the ability to negotiate a decent ransom too.
Most of Mexico’s 84 million mobile phones are prepaid handsets with a limited number of minutes of use that can be easily bought in stores.
About 60 percent of its 17 million clients in Mexico have submitted their information.
Of course there is nothing to stop criminals registering phones under other people’s identities either, although the government has promised to check everyone’s details.