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Mexico Lower House Bill Blocks Mobile-Phone Service in Prisons

Mexico’s lower house of Congress passed a bill to block mobile-phone service in Mexican prisons to prevent criminals from using them in extortion and kidnapping schemes.

With 315 votes in favor, 6 against and 7 abstentions, deputies approved a bill that also impedes the use of devices for data and image transmission inside penitentiaries and as far as 20 meters around them.

The legislation would also cancel a planned registry of wireless carriers’ users that was intended to help authorities trace calls. Criminals used mobile phones in about 95 percent of extortions in 2008, according to the proposal Congress approved that year to create the database. A judge blocked the government in 2010 from forcing mobile-phone carriers to cut off users who didn’t register for the database.

To become law, the bill must be signed by President Felipe Calderon.

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