Tourists and foreigners living in Thailand could be tracked through their SIM cards under Thai government plans.
Visitors and expats can currently use standard phone and data cards from a range of operators. Rules had been tightened earlier this year require anyone buying a new SIM – including Thai natives – to provide their ID cards.
But under strict new measures being put forward by the regime, any foreigners in Thailand will be issued with a special kind of phone SIM card that can be tracked by the Government.
No exceptions will be made for long-term Thai residents, according to a statement from the Secretary General of the Office of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission.
‘We will separate SIM cards for foreigners and Thais,’ Takorn Tantasith said.
‘The location will always be turned on in this SIM card for foreigners. And it cannot be turned off.
‘This is just the same as foreigners writing in the address of their residences in immigration documents.’
‘We would just facilitate the police. So they could more easily track foreigners who enter the country and commit crimes
‘The function is not in SIMs card for Thais because we can always easily track them anyway.’
The new system – which could be effective within six months – would effectively introduce a two-tier society with anyone form abroad being placed under suspicion.
Police would need to a warrant track foreigners by their Thai SIM card.
But the plans sparked outrage among long-term Thai residents.
‘George Orwell would have loved this,’ one person wrote on the Thai Visa forum.
Others pointed out the flaws in using the system to track criminals.
‘So what happens if you DON”T have a SIM card and don’t use a cellphone?,’ said the user.