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Thailand to require biometric registration for SIM cards

Measure to combat terrorism and boost digital security raises privacy concerns

Thailand is requiring buyers of SIM cards to have their faces or fingerprints scanned and stored in a government database.

BANGKOK -- Thailand will require anyone buying a SIM card in the country -- a central part of mobile phones -- to register fingerprints or facial scans in a government database, a security measure that some worry could be abused to give the ruling junta broad surveillance capabilities.

The government launched a biometric registration system for prepaid SIM cards in December. This will be extended in February to include postpaid contracts, covering nearly all SIM cards sold in the country. The fingerprint and facial scans are linked to the SIM cards' respective phone numbers and stored in a database operated by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission.

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