IN response to widespread backlash over approval of the use of location-tracking SIM cards specifically for tourists in Thailand, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) has clarified that the requirement does not apply to expatriates in the country.
Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the NBTC, said the cards are only to be used to improve the safety of tourists, and track down those who overstay their visas.
He was quoted by the Bangkok Post saying: “We are not limiting any rights. The NBTC has no authority to check on the location of users.
“But if tourists commit wrong, or there is a court warrant, we will then forward the warrant to a mobile phone operator and seek cooperation. All countries do this.”
The SIM card announcement was made on Tuesday, and approved in principle by the NBTC. Takorn initially said the plan would involve not just tourists, but also anyone who possesses a Thai passport, prompting concern from foreigners who live and work in the country.
Yeah, who needs all those foreign tourists and investors anyway? Amazing how policies like this get approved. https://t.co/y9aD5SiQWk
— Bob Boonhod (@boonhod) August 9, 2016
Extremely creepy plan by Thailand to track all foreigners, including long term residents and presumably journalists https://t.co/whXM9EgxPS
— Erin Hale (@erinhale) August 9, 2016
Yesterday, he claimed that Malaysia and Singapore will also be carrying out a similar plan. Currently, both countries require SIM cards to be registered under a valid identification, but they do not link to a tracking syste,m
Citing the interests of national security as the reason for the new tourist requirement, Takorn said the NBTC will also discuss the measures with mobile phone operators, the Customs Department and other state agencies.