Thai authorities are requiring cellphone users in the Deep South to have their photographs taken as an extra step in registering SIM cards, saying it could help prevent bombings by insurgents, but rights advocates warn this could threaten people’s privacy.
Some 1 million cellphone users in the troubled southern border region have till the end of October to register their SIM cards with Thailand’s three mobile phone providers, or have their service disconnected if they don’t comply, said officials with the regional Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC-4).
Cellphone users already are required to register their SIM cards with providers but now are being asked to show up at providers’ outlets to present identification and have their photos taken as an extra layer of security, officials said.
Under an old system, phone users could register their phones with the authorities by presenting I.D. cards, but insurgents still have been able to use SIM cards registered under other people’s names, or buy cards from neighboring countries or over the internet, ISOC-4 spokesman Col. Pramote Prom-in said.
“We found SIM cards used in some bombings, including the attack on the bronze mermaid statue on Samila Beach in Songkhla province late last year in which a suspect in the bombing admitted that he had ordered a SIM card online,” Pramote said.
He was referring to bomb explosions that targeted the Golden Mermaid statute, a beachside landmark in a district of Songkhla province that lies outside the conflict-ridden Deep South.
“Some SIM cards were ordered online from outside of the region or from a neighboring country, or phone numbers were registered with someone else’s names,” Pramote added.
Full story: BenarNews
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