Thailand waters down alien-tracking plan

Resident aliens, that is. But tourists are still in trouble if they buy local SIMs

Thailand has backed down on its plans to use phones as trackers for the location of resident aliens, but will press ahead with a plan to keep tabs on tourists.

As we reported yesterday, the Kingdom floated a plan to force all visitors who sign up for local SIM cards to subject themselves to physical tracking. National security was the justification for the idea, with nationalism making it a not-unpopular notion.

Resident aliens, however, weren't happy with that on grounds that once they get a visa they should enjoy equality under the law. The plan was also criticised because anyone wanted for a crime who knows their phone is being tracked would just leave their phone behind and head for the hills

Now the Thai government has waltzed back a little, saying that the idea should only be applied as a way to track tourists who represent a flight risk after doing something naughty. And the tracking won't be in real-time but will instead involve asking telcos to track users' movements across their networks. Those entering Thailand intending to do ill are therefore on notice to sort out cheap roaming.

Resident aliens won't be asked to sign up for the plans, leaving those who invest in Thailand or bring their expertise rather more relaxed about extending their stays. Or as relaxed as you can be in a nation where the military runs the government, the police and military issue offer overlapping and contradictory regulations and insulting the monarch can get you jailed. ®

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