In an effort to enhance transparency in government and end financial corruption, the Mexican Congress has approved a draft amendment bill that will reform the Mexican Constitution by requiring all government entities to publicly report their finances and expenditures. The lower chamber of the Mexican Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, voted 424 to 16 in favour of the bill, which has now been passed to President Enrique Pena Nieto and is expected to become law by the start of 2014.

President of the Chamber of Deputies, Julio Cesar Moreno Rivera, commented, “this reform will increase accountability and bring Mexico toward having a democratic and transparent government.”

The draft bill tasks the Mexican DPA, the Federal Institute for Access to Public Information (IFAI), with overseeing public transparency and government accounting for federal, state and municipal institutions.  The IFAI will be able to publish information held by the executive, legislative and judicial entities, as well as political parties and trade unions. The IFAI will have administrative autonomy from the federal government and is empowered to make final resolutions and binding decisions, except in the case of national security.

Institutional Revolutionary Party Deputy Lizbeth Gamboa Song commented, “This is a historic step with the transformation of the IFAI into a constitutionally autonomous agency, because this strengthens the powers of transparency agencies by expressly spelling it out in the text of the Constitution.”

Senator Cristina Diaz Salazar added, “the IFAI’s transformation into an autonomous body marks an important step in Mexico’s decision to generate higher standards to oversee transparency and financial reporting by public institutions, the public’s right to access that information and the protection of personal data.”

There are, however, concerns within the International Chamber of Commerce that the initiative will overwhelm the IFAI and could trigger a reshuffle of the Mexican DPA with two additional commissioners scheduled to be appointed. The bill even implies that a new entity will be appointed to take over the IFAI’s responsibility for personal data protection, leaving the IFAI free to focus on public sector freedom of information issues. Spectators suspect this could be the Secretariat’s Subsecretary of the Digital Economy operating under the Mexican consumer regulator, the Profeco, or even a completely new entity.

While the bill makes remarkable progress for greater transparency, it has simultaneously created a great deal of uncertainty about the future of Mexican data protection regulation.