Mexico is currently in the process of promoting and implementing artificial intelligence initiatives and programmes, and creating the framework to innovate in public services toward creating a digital transformation, mainly through the use of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence.
To date, however, there have been relatively few legal developments that regulate new artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies. One of the few new technology laws is the Law that regulates financial technology institutions, commonly known as the FinTech Law, published in Mexico’s Federal Official Gazette on 9 March 2018. This law establishes the general regulatory framework for financial services to be rendered through new technologies and IT platforms or tools to facilitate financial transactions, and the use of authorised cryptocurrencies as an alternate form of payment for financial transactions. It also regulates the organisation, operation and authorisation of Mexican corporations to operate as financial technology institutions.
On another front, the Mexican government has launched numerous policies and initiatives to innovate in digital transformation matters. The previous administration had already created the National Digital Strategy (NDS), as the digital action plan to build a ‘Digital Mexico’ over the next few years, in which the adoption and use of information and communication technologies and innovation would contribute to achieving the country’s development goals.
According to the report ‘Towards an AI Strategy in Mexico: Harnessing the AI Revolution’, the NDS has resulted in the implementation of national policies in the areas of connectivity, interoperability, data, digital inclusion and digital skills, coupled with efforts to ensure the consistency of legislation regarding e-government. The five objectives of the NDS set forth in the National Development Plan 2013-2018 are:
- government transformation;
- digital economy;
- quality education;
- effective universal healthcare; and
- citizen participation and innovation.
These objectives were to be achieved through national policies covering connectivity, digital skills inclusion, digital interoperability and identity, legal framework, and open government data, which are currently in place. According to the ‘Digital Mexico’ platform, this strategy has an overall completion of 94 per cent thanks to numerous efforts by the Mexican government to increase the coverage of mobile data services and internet access by creating and implementing programmes to provide free internet public spaces and deliver 4G broadband connectivity; a single platform for citizens to access government information, services and open data; and programmes to encourage digital inclusion and the development of digital skills, among others.
Furthermore, in June 2018, Mexico became one of the first 10 countries in the world to design and delivering a national strategy for the development of artificial intelligence, which resulted in an update to the NDS guidelines in July 2018, and the publication of a wide cross-sector consultation process on recommendations for a National Policy on Artificial Intelligence. These principles are spelled out in more detail in the General Principles and Guidelines for the Use of Artificial Intelligence Systems in the Federal Public Administration. Starting in 2017, through the BlockchainHackMX initiative, the NDS and the Ministry of Public Administration have been working on laying out the foundation principles of a Mexico Blockchain Network to promote the use of blockchain technology in the public sector as a mean to increase confidence in public institutions and effectively fight against corruption. In August 2018, the initiative published the governance model for the blockchain network, so that this network can be used in public services including public tender processes, registration of property and education certificates. This model was a collaborative effort by several governmental agencies, public universities and representatives of Mexico’s blockchain industry, as well as international blockchain experts. The network brings in representatives from both public and private sectors, universities and civil organisations. As part of this initiative, the Mexican government planned to conduct Mexico’s very first public procurement procedure through the use of Smart Tenders, a project that evolved from the Talent Land Hackathon 2018, based on blockchain technology. However, the procedure has not yet taken place, so the project’s status is unclear.
In recent years, Mexico’s public and private sectors have developed and deployed artificial intelligence projects in diverse sectors such as tax, agriculture, public transportation, and public health. To enhance the mechanisms used to detect shell companies and fraudulent operations, for instance, the Tax Administration Service (SAT) has been testing artificial intelligence algorithms. In conformity with the aggressive anti-corruption enforcement actions taken by the current administration, we expect for these technologies to be further improved and deployed.
As remarkable as these efforts are, it is also important to note that the Superior Audit Office of the Federation (ASF) recently detected some deficiencies in the NDS information reported by the Presidential Office, mainly, because it does not provide reliable information to follow up the implemented actions under the NDS and its results and efficiency. Now, as the current administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reaches its 100-day mark, it is still unclear whether a digital strategy will be a national top priority and whether it will continue the steps begun under the NDS or design a new strategy to address Mexico’s current digital challenges.
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