Authorities in Thailand are expanding the country’s biometric registration program for mobile subscribers nationwide.
The National Broadcasting and Telecom Commission first announced that mobile network operators would be required to offer voluntary biometric registration to interested subscribers near the start of this year, and followed that move in late spring with a regulation mandating biometric enrollment for mobile subscribers in the country’s southern regions, where an ongoing separatist insurgency has been in operation for well over a decade.
While the mandatory registration for southern Thailand was aimed at preventing insurgents from using fraudulently registered mobile devices to coordinate attacks, NBTC head Takorn Tantasith asserted at a news conference that the program expansion across the country is mainly aimed at securing mobile banking and payments. Mobile subscribers are already required to register their biometrics for post-paid accounts, but the new regulation will require consumers to register their fingerprint or face biometrics for pre-paid SIMs as well, starting December 15th. Foreigners purchasing SIM cards will need to undergo a face scan for comparison against their passport photos.
Multiple countries have moved ahead with similar biometric SIM registration regulations in recent years, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. The efforts are often framed in terms of national security, but the ongoing ascent of mobile commerce may push more authorities to adopt such measures going forward.
November 6, 2017 – by Alex Perala