Thailand’s telecoms regulator yesterday approved a proposal that will require all foreign visitors to use special SIM cards that allow authorities to track their location, the Bangkok Post reported.
According to Takorn Tantasith, secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), the rule is “in the interest of national security”.
Takorn said: “We will separate SIM cards for foreigners and Thais.”
The Post said the NBTC plans to discuss the requirement with mobile operators, the Customs Department and other related government agencies. The plan reportedly could become law within six months.
Takorn said mobile operators can programme SIM cards to ensure that they can track foreign users, who won’t be able to turn off the tracking function.
Thailand, since the military seized power in a coup more than two years ago, has introduced a number of controversial measures, including cyber security bills that are winding their way through the approval process.
The Cyber Stability and Computer Crimes acts have raised concerns among local and foreign activists and consumer groups, which complain they will allow the government agencies to infringe upon individuals’ privacy and give them the ability to circumvent the court.
The Cyber Stability act has been singled out for allowing officials to collect any kind of electronic data in the name of digital stability, all without a court order, the Post reported.
A government representative said some of the more draconian measures, which gave officials the authority to shut down websites even if they didn’t host illegal content, have been removed from the Cyber Crimes act.
The bills can still be revised before they are approved by the National Legislative Assembly.