Connect with us


Opinion: Tracking tourists for ‘national security’

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: An online forum recently published an article titled ‘NBTC to propose special SIM cards for foreign tourists so they can be traced’. The article states that the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) intends to introduce ‘special’ SIM cards for mobile users, in order to ‘track’ foreigners while they are staying in Thailand.

The news is worrying on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to begin. It goes without saying that this is an unprecedented invasion of privacy, so I won’t dwell on that too much. However, the NBTC secretary-general is reported to have said what we now hear in justification of so many draconian measures in Thailand, that is that this is a matter of “national security” and should not be viewed as a violation of anyone’s privacy.

Additionally, the ‘traceable’ SIM cards will reportedly not be a requirement for Thai nationals, because “they are required to show their ID cards when they buy SIM cards”, the article states. This one is a head-scratcher for me, because everyone – Thai national or otherwise – is required to show their ID when purchasing a SIM card.

Foreigners, especially, are much more easily ‘traceable’ to begin with, what with our need to show a valid passport, arrival and departure cards and, for tourists, a hotel reservation when entering the country.

However, all of that aside, my biggest concern is how hostile such a move might appear to a visitor. Imagine being a first time visitor and walking up to an airport counter to buy a sim, only to be told that your activities would be monitored for the duration of your stay in the interests of “national security” and order to ensure that you’re not a criminal.

On the flip side, I wonder if foreigners are even going to be informed of this at all.

The proposition also brings up a number of burning questions I’d like answered. For instance, how do they intend to track travellers who use international SIMs with roaming? What about foreigners, such as myself, who purchased their SIM cards long before the introduction of the new ones? Also, if an international criminal element really does enter the country, he or she would probably know enough to make other arrangements anyway.

The idea could have been acceptable to foreigners, at least in theory, if packaged even slightly more diplomatically, but what with this ‘guilty until proven innocent’ approach, that doesn’t seem likely either.

— Sahar Aftab Paliwala


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Bangkok1 hour ago

Bang Sue Station begins 150k vaccine booster shots tomorrow

Thailand2 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Expat “dual pricing” at Thai hospital lawsuit; Patong bars raided | September 23

Economy2 hours ago

PM Prayut announces a 5-point plan for the future economy

Sponsored1 day ago

HOMA is now offering fully-serviced, affordable lifestyle apartments in Phuket Town.

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Thailand3 hours ago

Khon Kaen restaurant busted for allegedly serving alcohol

Kanchanaburi4 hours ago

14 Burmese migrant workers arrested for allegedly illegally crossing the border

Chiang Mai5 hours ago

Cyclist unable to take steep hill plunges to his death in Chiang Mai ravine

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand5 hours ago

Thaiger Bites | The eye of the Thaiger | Ep. 24

Coronavirus (Covid-19)5 hours ago

Thursday Covid Update: 13,256 new cases; provincial totals

Pattaya5 hours ago

Pattaya Man goes looking for food, later found dead in graveyard

Phuket6 hours ago

Minor Phuket entry revision: Covid-19 test within 7 days, not 3

News6 hours ago

Grenade attack kills ranger in Pattani

Pattaya7 hours ago

Reopening Pattaya: Will it happen next week or not?

Thailand7 hours ago

5 police kiosks set on fire in Bangkok, no injuries reported

Pattaya8 hours ago

Pattaya restaurant busted selling alcohol, 15 arrested

Thailand8 hours ago

Decision on Hua Hin Hospital “dual pricing” case set for next week

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand1 week ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11