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10th August

 Updated: A violation of the right to privacy of individuals...

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Thai government proposes a special SIM card for foreigners that allows for easy tracking
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old mobile phone 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

bbc news logo 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.

 

3rd July

  airbnb warning...

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Warnings that it is illegal in Thailand for home owners to rent out their property for a period of less than a month
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airbnb logo The Phuket Provincial Land Office has issued a formal warning to owners, developers and managers of condominiums that renting out their properties on a daily basis is a breach of the Hotel Act that may incur a fine or even jail time.

Renting condos out for periods of less than 30 days, the prime length of stay for holidaymakers, may bring the owner a fine of up to B20,000 or even up to one year in jail.

The Phuket warning notice read:

To managers/developers of condominiums,

Today, there is a lot of news about condominium developers/owners renting out rooms or buildings that they have ownership of to foreigners or tourists on a daily basis (daily rental) rate that generate income as if they were a hotel (under the Hotel Act 2004).

This type of operation is causes a public nuisance for renters in the same complex and creates unsafe places for tourists, which may lead to loss of life and property. It is inacceptable to operate an illegal hotel. The penalty for this is up to one year in jail or a fine of up to B20,000, or both.

Presumably the same law applies to Pattaya.

 

14th June

  Watch sensibly!...

Ludicrous advice from the Thai government about watching Euro 2016 safely
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euro-2016 logo Thailand's Public Health Ministry has ludicrously warned football fans to avoid getting overly excited while watching Euro 2016 lest those heart-stopping moments literally prove fatal.

The minsitry published advice calling on fans to ward off heart attacks by making sure they get enough rest and avoid long binges of football-fuelled excitement. Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, the deputy permanent secretary for public health, told reporters:

The ministry would like to advise all sport lovers -- teenagers, students, working people and the elderly -- to watch sensibly, Allocate appropriate time for watching and resting.

The ministry urged those with diabetes and heart problems to make sure they continue to take medication. It said those who work hard, even the young, should also take care. Suwanchai continued:

If your bodies are weak, fans should only watch the matches they are interested in or watch replays instead. Do enough rest, exercise, eat healthy foods and avoid alcohol.

Somehow the health and safety minister didn't mention the more pertinent advice of avoiding Russian football thugs.

Police said that during the 2014 World Cup, more than 800 football gambling websites in Thailand were shut down and almost 1,000 people, mostly gamblers, were arrested.

 

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