Published on : Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Following strong opposition from the government, plans for issuing special SIM cards for tourists have finally been called off by Thailand’s national telecom regulator. The plan faced heavy criticism in its first public hearing and participants said that it would lead to potential threat to a traveler’s privacy.
The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) planned to force all mobile phone operators to set in location-based service software into their SIM cards to facilitate tracking call history of the user in the event he or she became a criminal suspect. Operators would be required to sell these special SIM cards to tourists who are looking to use local mobile services. NBTC had planned to roll out the special SIM cards early this year. Only Malaysia uses special traceable SIM cards for foreign travelers.
According to NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith, “We have stopped all related processes (including public hearings) for the tourist SIM card plan.” Mr Takorn said the government, especially the Tourism and Sports Ministry, was concerned that introducing the tourist SIM would cause severe damage to the local tourism industry, which contributes a major part in Thailand’s economic growth, comprising 17% of the GDP.