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EDITORIAL: Tracking you down... for safety!

EDITORIAL: Tracking you down... for safety!

The new immigration form mandating foreign nationals disclose various personal details is intrusive, much like distrusting parents tracking their children’s smart-phones. Not only do authorities appear to lack subtlety and a clear understanding of how technology works, they also seem to lack the capacity to safely manage and protect the extensive data they are collecting.

Sunday 29 May 2016, 07:55AM

Not the happiest of places.

Not the happiest of places.

At best, they can hope to better “track down” foreigners when problems arise. Though such a move should surprise no one in this age of mass surveillance, perhaps what is hard to swallow for many foreign residents is the utter lack of subtlety – the perception that officials view all foreigners as potential criminals, and possible scapegoats in any legal unpleasantness that might arise.

Being faced with the unreliable state of your legal rights is bound to be unnerving for anyone. Human Rights Watch points out that this initiative not only enables Thai authorities to profile tourists and expatriates, but enables anyone with access the power to misuse this information. But the form itself, while intrusive, would hardly increase anyone’s ability to prevent, or commit, crime or terror acts. 

Bank account numbers will not give authorities access to your money. Knowing what websites you visit and where you hang out sounds more like an awkward first-date script.


Your licence plate numbers should already be easily accessible for any functioning bureaucracy.
Your social media details are already on the internet – if you were worried about privacy, you should have read the fine print and never signed up to disclose your personal content on the internet in the first place.

At worst, the form may invoke fear amongst some alien denizens, who may or may not be deterred from committing any nefarious deeds for fear of being traced. Not exactly the most scientifically proven method of crime-prevention, but fairly standard for authoritarian states throughout time. Human Rights Watch also thinks the form “risks alienating foreign investors and
tourists who play a major role in the Thai economy”... which is the standard response to xenophobic polices worldwide. 

What is not pointed out is that xenophobia is the foundation of all immigration policies that exist today, worldwide, and foreign investors already absorb it into their cost-benefit analysis. And as Thailand makes a rather endearing effort to catch up with the modern surveillance states, lives will
not change, nor will they be destroyed any more than usual.

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swerv | 04 June 2016 - 15:59:48

Should have written Non-Obligatory

Rich 44 | 03 June 2016 - 20:16:40

1.required by a legal, moral, or other rule; compulsory: 
"use of seat belts in cars is now obligatory"

synonyms: compulsory · mandatory · prescribed · required · 

swerv | 03 June 2016 - 16:54:40

@Kurt: No one needs to explain it to me. OBLIGATORY means i don't have to give the information if i don't want to.

Kurt | 03 June 2016 - 13:11:06

Aha, it seems that this swerve finally found it. ( the page in which thai Immigration ask you about your 'hang out' places.  
But what a strange and unfriendly way to express that.

Perhaps another reader can help him a bit?

swerv | 03 June 2016 - 07:23:36

@Kurt: The questions regarding places you visit and social media sites are OBLIGATORY not MANDATORY. Please check a dictionary if you don't know what obligatory or mandatory means.

Rich 44 | 02 June 2016 - 12:15:54

Is there a site that we can download the entire form from?

Kurt | 01 June 2016 - 12:35:39

Seems that swerve missed many publications in several thai newspapers, showing clearly that page with questions about what places you visit in your free time, bars, restaurants, other premises, etc.
Perhaps other readers can update him/her on that.

swerv | 31 May 2016 - 15:47:57

@Kurt: Yes i have seen the form and there is nothing on there about what restaurants i visit etc.
Once again non factual crap.

Kurt | 31 May 2016 - 14:47:45

swerve seems not have seen the photo copy part of the immigration form shown by PN.
Reading is a art.

swerv | 31 May 2016 - 10:19:10

Kurt: where does it state in this article?
Why to fill out what restaurants, bar's, pubs, shopping centers I visit? 

Kurt | 31 May 2016 - 09:20:20

Christy Sweet 12:  "Fried Air", the meaning is: 'Nothing', as we can't fry air.
I don't know the meaning of "hot Air".  :)

Christy Sweet 12 | 31 May 2016 - 08:14:26

It's not just this form, but a systemic attitude to harass and make it as difficult and unpleasant for foreigners as can be.
 I had a proposal for a resort, using my own ponies, I would provide fairly priced rides to guests and the owners would not have to pay me, a win/win for both of us and something no Thai had offered to do. Yet, my forty-seven years of riding experience, ten years of man...

Christy Sweet 12 | 31 May 2016 - 07:58:21

Kurt, "Fried air"? I really like that, but never heard it before-suppose it is a variant of "hot air?"

Rich 44 | 31 May 2016 - 05:18:09

What is the purpose of squeezing an old retired man or woman for this very, very personal information?  It can cause their bankruptcy when misused. Or robbery and beating if thugs know where you will be. How is this protecting anyone when it is putting us in danger? 

morryb56 | 30 May 2016 - 12:08:33

Australian Company IDTracker has a better solution, and its actually being used voluntary, someone needs to bring it to Thailands attention www.idtracker.com.au is now in Thailand

Kurt | 30 May 2016 - 09:08:12

Tracking me down,.. for my safety?
How about tracking down the people who are threatening my safety?
All these people with weapons and under influence of drugs ( both illegal).
The violent and cheating tuk tuk and taxi drivers.
The property developers ( like Patong ACE 1 project) who are threatening the property industry on Phuket.

Purposely I not mention nationalities of above mentioned pe...

fartnocker | 29 May 2016 - 14:12:31

I agree with the sentiment of this article but you did write some laughably wrong stuff in the last paragraph.

"xenophobia is the foundation of all immigration policies that exist today, worldwide"

Are you serious? So a government might not want to secure it borders for economic reasons like illegal immigration? nah they must just be really xenophobic. I agree that the ways they ar...

Belzybob | 29 May 2016 - 10:11:54

In creating the form there was presumably an assumption that it's contents will be effectively used by competent persons. Now how likely is it that will occur?

Jome | 29 May 2016 - 08:30:55

Yes...every foreigner,tourist or resident, is a potential criminal......

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