Biometric checks for new SIM cards start next month – foreigners exempt, for now

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Mobile phone users will be required to submit their fingerprint or a scan of their face when purchasing a new SIM card from December 15th.

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission said there had been some delays but all mobile phone operators were onboard.

This means DTAC, AIS, TRUE, TOT and CAT customers will be able to use the new technology to safeguard their phones, Banmuang reported.

Thai people will be required to submit a fingerprint when purchasing a SIM card, which is then matched against the data stored on their national ID card.

Existing users of SIM cards will not be required to sumbit biometric data, Takorn Tantasith secretary-general of National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said.

Meanwhile, Khaosod English reports that foreigners and tourists are exempted from the requirement to submit biometric data – for now.

It was originally reported that foreigners would be required to have their faces scanned, which would then be matched against the photo in their passports.

However, a delay in rolling out the e-passport scanning machines to vendors has meant that foreigners are not yet required to submit facial scans.

“The problem is with the equipment. Machines to scan e-passports are much more expensive than those to scan ID cards, which are cheaper. Even 7-Eleven has them,” Prawit Leesatapornwongsa, NBTC commissioner told Khaosod.

When the e-passport machines are eventually rolled out they will only be available in areas popular with foreigners.

The requirement for users to have either their faces scanned and fingerprints verified was first rolled out in Thailand’s deep south earlier this year, where it was used as tool to try and help tackle insurgency which has plagued the region for more than a decade.

Now the requirement is being rolled out nationwide its aim is to enhance security of mobile phone users in Thailand and to combat fraudulent activity.

“This is not aimed at tracking users, but enhancing security, especially in case of mobile payments,” Takorn said earlier this month.

Currently there is a requirement for anyone who buys a new pre or post paid SIM card in Thailand to register with the NBTC. Registration is made by handing over your passport when purchasing the new SIM card.

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