The Thai National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission is to proposing the introduction of special SIM cards for mobile or smart phones used by foreign tourists while they are staying in Thailand.
NBTC secretary-general Thakorn Tanthasit pointed out that normally foreign tourists were required to inform immigration officials where they stay while in Thailand. With the introduction of special SIM cards, he said that the visitors would be tracked
more easily in case some of them might engage in illegal activities.
Thakorn said he would invite representatives of mobile phone service providers for consultations, especially the technical aspect for the system. He claimed that this is a matter of national security and it should not be deemed as a violation of the
right to privacy of individuals.
Update: Further details
9th August 2016. SSee article from khaosodenglish.com
A plan to require all foreigners in Thailand to use a special SIM card that can track their location will be reviewed by authorities Tuesday afternoon.
The plan would require anyone, not just tourists but everyone who doesn't hold a Thai passport, to use the new SIM card which would enable the authorities to track its owner's location at any time, said Takorn Tantasith, the Secretary General of the
Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission. No exceptions would be made for resident aliens on long-term visas such as those for employment, marriage or retirement. Takorn said:
We will separate SIM cards for foreigners and Thais. The location will always be turned on in this SIM card for foreigners. And it cannot be turned off.
Foreign tourists would be able to continue to use SIM cards brought in from other countries under roaming service and would not be required to turn their location on.
Takorn said he was unconcerned about any rights or privacy issues raised by the system. He expects the policy to come into effect in six months.
Update: Invasion of privacy approved by military junta
10th August 2016. See article from bbc.com
Thailand's plans to force foreigners to use SIM cards specially made to enable location tracking have made the world's press with the BBC reporting that the plans have been approved by the military government.
The plans have been approved in principle by Thailand's telecommunications authority and have been backed by other parts of Thailand's military government.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said the special Sim cards would come with tracking enabled, which the user could not turn off. The commission said that the facility will be used to track visa overstayers and people on
the run from the police.
The basis of the idea is that the tracking information of either GPS or the less accurate signal triangulation is already available to carriers, but the Thai Government would prefer perhaps to have an immediate realtime update without asking carriers for
the data. The Government would then effectively operate as the carrier for these designated foreigner sims.
While the proposal has been approved by the NBTC, Secretary General Takorn Tantasith said the organisation would consult with police, tourism authorities and tour operators before deciding whether to implement it.
I don't suppose that many visitors will be keen on the police being able to have a 24 hour realtime display of their locations as they check out the upstairs rooms of bars and GoGos.