Thailand ramps up requirements of fingerprints and facial scans for anyone buying a SIM card

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The requirement for people in Thailand to register a fingerprint or facial scan when buying a SIM card will be extended throughout the country from February 1st.

Last year, Thailand’s telecoms regulator announced that anyone wanting to buy a SIM card from one of Thailand’s major telecom firms – True, AIS or Dtac – would be required to submit a fingerprint of facial recognition scan from 15 December 2017.

However, other retailers such as 7-Eleven, Family Mart and anywhere else you can buy a SIM card were given a deadline of 1 February 2018 to install the new equipment needed to record the biometric data and train staff on how to use it.

Retailers face fines and could have their licenses suspended if they fail to comply.

It was reported last year that the requirement to submit biometric data only applied to Thai nationals, with expats and tourists exempt – although that could be about to change.

Khaosod English reported last year that foreigners would be included in the requirement once retailers in areas of Thailand popular with foreigners had installed e-passport scanning machines.

Now a more recent report from Nikkei Asian Review says that the requirement applies to foreigners also.

The need to submit biometric data was first introduced in June 2017 in Thailand’s troubled south in a bid to help combat separatist insurgency.

Officials have since said that as well as for reasons of national security, the biometric requirements will also help to protect users from fraud and enhance security on mobile payments, which are increasingly popular in Thailand.

“This is not aimed at tracking users, but enhancing security, especially in case of mobile payments,” Takorn Tantasith, the secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission said last year.

The requirements to submit biometric data follow on from the mandatory registration of all prepaid SIM cards that was introduced in 2015.

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