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.