The telecom regulator has tried to ease the concerns of tourists about requiring them to use traceable SIM cards, saying the plan is not fixed and will need to go through public hearings and several procedures before putting into effect.
Takorn Tantasith the secretary-general of the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said, at least five to six public hearings will be held before the regulator launches the special SIM cards, tentatively set throughout the following six months.
The aim of tourist SIM cards was originated at a meeting in Phuket of the Asean Telecommunication Regulations' Council to boost national security. And Malaysia is the only country using them among the 10 Asean countries.
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If the plan is approved the NBTC might allow the SIMs to be valid for another 30-45 days after tourists leave the country.
Mr Takorn said the NBTC had meant well when adopting the plan. "We have no right to violate tourists’ privacy ... If we disclose personal information without a court warrant; we could face five years in.
According to the Tourism and Sports Ministry, 19.06 million foreign tourists visited Thailand from January to July this year, an increase of 12% year-on-year.
An NBTC panel on August 10, 2016 approved the principle to require tourists seeking to purchase SIM cards in Thailand to use only the traceable type. Those on roaming services and expatriates will not be affected.