Internal Security enforces facial ID for SIM card registration in Deep South

Mobile phone users in the Deep South must register facial identification for their SIM card by 31 October, says the Internal Security Operation Command (ISOC); critics are concerned about a violation of fundamental rights.

Source: National News Bureau of Thailand

ISOC Region 4 says that mobile phone users in the Deep South must register facial identification to obtain a SIM card. Otherwise, their phone numbers will be terminated, regardless of the carrier service used. The area of enforcement includes Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and four districts of Songkhla (Na Thawi, Chana, Thepha, and Saba Yoi).

Mobile phone users must take their ID cards to branch offices of their service providers and take two pictures: one of their ID card and another of their own face. A report says that in some cases customers have had to take a picture many times (even 20 times) before the registration system accepted their data.

True Move H reportedly notified their users through SMS. ISOC also helps facilitate the facial registration process by setting up registration services in all areas of the Deep South. Even though the measure has been applied nationwide, it only affects people who bought SIM cards from December 2017 onward. Without the involvement of the ISOC, users of older SIM cards can still use mobile services outside the Deep South.

Some have raised concerns about ISOC’s policies. Romadon Panjor of Deep South Watch says that the Deep South has now become a laboratory for replication at the national level:

“There are many reasons not to let ‘security measures’ like this be enforced without strong resistance. Otherwise measures like this will be applied to people throughout the country, like other measures in the past. This is also basically a violation of fundamental rights. People still lack trust and confidence in ISOC to safeguard this private information. It also cannot be taken as agreed how far this kind of power exercised by ISOC, the Committee to Mobilise Policy and Strategy to Solve Problems in the Southern Border Provinces’ Front Command Office, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission, and Advanced Info Service (AIS), is legitimate and lawful. The scepticism of the people has weight.”

The Prachachat Party, which won most MPs in the Deep South, shares the concerns that these measures violate the fundamental rights of Thai citizens. Pol Col Tawee Sodsong, Secretary-General of the Prachachat Party, said that unless a bill is passed in the legislature, the measure may violate Sections 26 and 36 of the Constitution which guarantee liberty and freedom of communication.