Associate, Mexico City
Norton Rose Fulbright
Tel+ 52 55 3000 0643
Counsel, New York
Norton Rose Fulbright
Tel+ 1 212 408 5478
Although Mexico is considered to be one of the leading countries with respect to traditional automotive manufacturing, to date, there has been little in the way of technology investment or legal changes regarding autonomous vehicles (AV).
In fact, there has been no effort on behalf of the Mexican government to prepare for the arrival of AV technology. Nonetheless, although indirectly, there have been recent advancements that allow such technologies to be used in the country.
On 2013, Mexico initiated a series of constitutional reforms, that provide, among other things, for the development of the Mexican telecommunications sector. As a result, the Mexican Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) was created as a new telecommunications and economic competition authority; telecommunications were recognised as a public service (which means that they have to be guaranteed by the Mexican State); and telecommunications services were recognised as means for the exercise and access to human rights of freedom of speech and access of information.
In addition, the reforms mandated the Mexican state to guarantee that telecommunications services will be provided considering competition, quality, plurality, universal access, interconnection, convergence, continuity and without arbitrary interference.
As the secondary legislation to the constitutional reform was enacted, the IFT was commissioned to better allocate the radio spectrum in order to secure its most efficient use and to encourage the implementation of new technologies.
Consequently, on May 19, 2018, Mexico became the first nation in the world to completely clear the 600 MHz frequency band which will be solely used for fifth generation technologies (5G).
5G technologies allow for high data transmission with low latency. This makes 5G technology the perfect medium for the real-time transfer of information, which, according to AV experts, will be key to enhancing the AV industry worldwide.
Mexico and its major cities are currently facing the challenges of decades of not having well-planned urban development and public transport policies. This has led to an increase in the investment on sustainable means of transportation and the implementation of new transportation technologies.
It has been predicted that AVs could start operating in Mexico City in the next five years. However, there are massive technological implementation challenges that must be faced in order to achieve AV operation in the whole country.
Currently, Mexico’s average data transmission speed is less than 10 Mbps. Considering that the entry of 4G technology was made years ago, it is expected to have the 5G technology fully implemented no earlier than in the next 10 to 15 years.
Another consideration for the AVs operation would be the issue of road maintenance. The conditions for the operation of AVs in the current state of roads and highways of the country could be a potential risk. Thus, limiting the areas where the AVs could operate.
Historically, Mexican authorities take a reactive approach with respect to regulating new technologies, and AVs will certainly be no exception. If AVs are to operate in Mexico, the current legal framework would have to be updated in various areas of the law.
(i) Noms (Official Standards)
Mexico uses a system of Official Mexican Standards (known by their Mexican acronym “NOMS”). NOMS are technical regulations that establish rules, specifications and requirements for goods and services. These NOMS allow Mexican governmental agencies to establish parameters to prevent injuries or damage to the general population, animals and the environment, and to demonstrate that a product or item conforms to the standard that governs it. Currently, there is no evidence that an AV related NOM is in process. In order to establish an entry level standard for AV’s in the country, such a process would be needed.
In Mexico, there is no specific law or regulation solely dealing with the liability that may arise from the manufacture, distribution or supply of a defective product. Product liability is instead spread across a variety of laws depending on the circumstances. Likewise, liability in a car accident will be determined by the specific factual circumstances of each event.
Although the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transport (SCT) has not issued any statement with respect to any criteria to be applied in connection with liabilities arising from the operation of AVs. It is expected that the Mexican Federal Civil Code (FCC) provisions related to strict liability would apply in case of an accident, since operation of AVs could be classified in the type of activities where, although there is diligence, and measures are taken to avoid damage, the activity itself has a high probability of causing harm both to the user and to the public.
Pursuant to Article 1913 of the FCC, when a person makes use of mechanisms, instruments, or devices that cause any damage because of the speed they develop, or other analogous causes, said person will be liable even if the person did not act in an illegal manner, unless it is proven that the damage was caused by fault or inexcusable negligence of the victim.
Notwithstanding, it is important to consider that the legal doctrine of strict liability in Mexico is outdated given the radical evolution of the circumstances on which the doctrine was originally built. The same doctrine has been used since the 1930s.
It is expected that Mexico will develop specific regulation concerning liability related to the operation of AVs as the technology makes its way into the country.
In Mexico, injuries, disabilities and death due to car accidents cost more than 120 thousand million pesos a year and it is estimated that 70% of the cars do not have insurance. Due to the low level of insurance in the country and the economic impact of accidents, the Mexican States have recently joined a Federal effort to implement new laws and regulations related to mobility and transit. As a result, a mandatory strict third-party liability insurance (seguro de responsabilidad civil) is required for anyone who uses motor vehicles. This likely applies to AVs as well as traditional cars.
Unfortunately, the mandatory insurance obligations require only a minimum insurance amount and given the poor economic situation of certain regions, the mandatory insurance requirement has been removed from several States. This could represent a high economic risk for those operating AVs.
(iv) Data privacy
Mexico has developed a strong system of data protection laws that have a specific scope of protection depending on the nature of the organisation or the individual responsible for gathering and treating the information or data (data controller).
If personal data is gathered and used by manufacturers, service suppliers, telecommunication providers and other private sector parties related to the operation of AVs, such data controllers will be required to comply with the Federal Act of Personal Data held by Private Parties (FPDA). If the data controller is the Mexican government, the General Law of Protection of Personal Data in Possession of Regulated Entities (Sujetos Obligados) (GLPPD) will apply.
Both regulations classify personal data into two categories: (i) general personal data (personal data that helps to identify a person); and (ii) sensitive personal data (personal data pertaining to the most private areas of a subject's life).
Mexican data protection provisions are considered internationally accepted since Mexico subscribed to the Economic Partnership, Political Coordination and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union (EU) in which “the parties agree to ensure a high standard of protection to the treatment of the personal data in accordance with the standards and provisions adopted by the international organisms and the EU.” Through this agreement, Mexico has adopted Directive 95/46/EC on data protection, which regulates the processing of personal data.
 Global State of Mobile Networks report (February 2017)
 Statistics of the National Commission for the Protection and Defence of Users of Financial Services (CONDUSEF)