Potentially important news regarding prepaid phones in Thailand.
New proposals by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) will ask Cabinet to give the go ahead to make mandatory the registration of all prepaid phones in Thailand.
The NBTC claims that the move to make sure all prepaid mobile phone users register their SIM cards is in the interest of national security, although some mobile users have expressed concerns about possible violations regarding an infringement of personal rights, reports The Nation.
It is also claimed that unregistered SIMs have been used in fraudulent business activities and even by terrorists in Thailand and that the new proposals would help the authorities tackle those in violation of Article 112 of the Criminal Code.
It should be said that we’ve seen similar proposals related to prepaid phones in Thailand before.
In 2005 the then PM announced a similar policy in order to try and control insurgency in southern Thailand.
In June 2014 the NBTC also imposed a system which required all new prepaid SIM cards to be registered, however, only a small number of users cooperated with registering their new SIM card. The problem being is that SIM cards readily available at all manner of different outlet across Thailand and it has so far been very difficult for the authorities to enforce the law regarding the registration of SIM cards.
In order to help with the process of registering SIM cards, the NBTC says it plans to introduce a smartphone app which will be connected to the servers of the NBTC. Using the app, a photograph will be taken of the SIM card along with the users ID card. For expats living in Thailand, they will need to submit a photograph of their passport.
The Nation reports that there are 110 million active mobile phone numbers in Thailand, 90% of which are prepaid. However, only 10% of users are registered.
The requirement to register prepaid SIM cards is nothing new and is already commonplace in a number of countries around the world.
However, these proposals regarding prepaid phones in Thailand will almost certainly raise some questions amongst users in the Land of Smiles.
Firstly, how will this impact the 20 million+ tourists who visit Thailand every year, some of whom purchase prepaid SIM cards to use during their stay in the country. Will the process of registration be straightforward and how viable is this for a tourist who may only be using a prepaid SIM in Thailand for a couple of weeks or so?
Also, and perhaps more importantly, is the issue of internet security and data protection.
We’ve seen recently in the news that even the largest corporations in the world can be victims of cyber attacks. Can users be confident the NBTC can securely store important personal data such as a copy of passport electronically via its mobile app?
I’m sure we’ll hear more about this story in the coming week but for now, check out the full story from The Nation and let me know your thoughts on the proposals in the comments section below.
Jonathan is our Google Nexus and Android enthusiast. He is also fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to writing about tech, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and has previously written for one the UK’s leading watch and horology websites.