The National Broadcasting and Telecoms Commission (NBTC) has told Thailand’s mobile phone operators that they have to re-register the SIM cards of all of their customers.
Thailand introduced mandatory SIM card registration in 2015.
The requirement meant that anyone buying a new postpaid SIM card had to submit identification in the form of their ID card or passport at the point of sale.
Existing customer were required to give their details to their network operator who would then register them with the NBTC.
The mandatory SIM card registration was then expanded and from 1st Jan 2018 the NBTC said that all mobile users in Thailand would be required to submit biometric data in the form of fingerprints and facial scans.
Originally mobile operators and anywhere that sold SIM cards had a deadline of 1st Feb 2018 to install the equipment needed record the biometric data and train staff how to use it.
Officials had said that only Thai people would be required to submit biometric data when registering a SIM card. However, it was later reported that foreigners would be included in the requirement once retailers in areas of Thailand popular with foreigners had installed e-passport scanning machines. was only
But now the NBTC says that changes need to be made to how the SIM cards of mobile phone users in Thailand are registered.
The issue centres around clarifying who has registered the SIM card and who is actually using it.
A business for example, could have one person register multiple SIM cards at one time, but that person isn’t necessarily using the SIM cards. Likewise a parent who registers a SIM for their child or someone registering for a family member may not be the person using the SIM card.
The NBTC has told operators that the details of SIM card users now need to be recorded under two categories, which include something what the NBTC is calling “registered by” and “holder by”.
“Registered by” will record the details of the person who owns the SIM cards, while the person who actually uses the SIM card will be registered as a “holder by”.
If the NBTC gets the approval from central government then mobile phone operators will have just 180 days to re-register every single one of their customers.
Representatives from AIS, True Move and DTAC were told of the proposed requirements at a meeting earlier this week.
Also in attendance were representatives from Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society and the Bank of Thailand, as well as Thailand’s commercial banks.
Thailand’s mobile operators have said they are against proposals, citing impractically and expense to having to get millions of people to re-register their SIM cards.
The move is in the interest of national security, officials said. It will also help to tackle fraud as more people in Thailand move to mobile banking services.
Another meeting will be held before 1st May where mobile operators will be told if mandatory re-registration is required.