On Tuesday afternoon the tourists set to be tracked with special SIM cards story exploded across social media when Khaoconuts English published that the Secretary General of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission said it wasn’t just tourists he wanted tracked but all foreigners in the Kingdom.
Yet another proposal, yet more outrage and hysteria over something that is never going to happen. But why let the facts get in the way of a sensationalist story and a spike in website traffic?
The Secretary General said he wants to use SIM cards to track all foreigners, according to Khaoconuts, but when it comes down to implementing such a scheme, well, it’s pretty much like most of the proposals by government departments and agencies that make the news – they are all the talk for a few days then they fade away and are forgotten about, never to be mentioned again and the NBTC proposal to track foreigners is yet another and here’s why.
Firstly, there will be some back peddling and a statement will be made saying what was reported wasn’t what was meant.
This has already happened with NBTC secretary-general Takorn Tantasith saying on Wednesday it’s just tourists he wants to track to improve visitors safety and catch overstayers, not expats legally living and working in Thailand.
There’s the first nail in the special SIM card coffin.
After a quick rewrite following the latest update that removes expats and migrant workers lets carry on and I’ll explain why even the proposal to track just tourists will never happen.
Thailand are expecting visitor numbers to bypass 26 million in 2016. They come in by plane, train, bus, boat and bike through countless immigration points.
So we need 30 million special SIM cards and all we have to do now is get them to the tourists. This would be easy enough to do by handing them out at immigration checkpoints when visitors arrive. Pretty straight forward, right?
I fly into Thailand and Somchai hands me a SIM card along with my passport he’s just stamped with 30 days but what then? I’m made to insert it into my phone right there at the desk? What if I don’t have a phone? What if my phone is locked by the carrier I have a contract with? What If I say no?
And whats to stop me throwing the special SIM away once past immigration with all the crap I’ve collected during my 10 hour flight? Is someone from the Tourist Police gonna come chasing after me and send me packing with a deported stamp in my passport because I tossed away their shitty SIM card?
That’s if I bother to come in the first place as I’ve read the Daily Mail article about how Thailands military government want to spy on my every movement during my one month trip and thought to myself f**k that for a game of soldiers, I’m not going there if that’s the kind of bs they are pulling. Vietnam here I come, Thailand can go suck a bag of dicks.
And even if I do come whats to stop me buying a cheap mobile from MBK, sticking a regular SIM card in it and leaving the tracked phone switched off in my hotel room safe? Despite the changes to the law that requires ID to be shown when buying a SIM card, they are very easy to buy for 50 baht without being asked to show anything other than the colour of money.
I’m not even touching on the technical aspects of such an idea as I lack the knowledge to comment but I’m sure there’s a dozen ways to circumvent a phone transmitting location data even if the SIM has been set to do otherwise.
Tourist tracking SIM cards are just another crazy idea that will never happen. I’d bet my left bollock on it.
UPDATE 22nd Feb 2017: Tourist SIM Tracking Scheme Scrapped – Link