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Thailand wants foreigners to detail social media, bank account information

Wed 20 Apr 2016

Thailand beach

Thai authorities have updated their visa application procedure, asking foreigners to provide details of their social media accounts, banking credentials and information on the places they are likely to frequent.

The country’s Immigration Bureau is now providing tourists and expatriates with a form which looks to gather a variety of personal information, citing national security and crime prevention.

The new form, titled ‘Record of Foreigner Information’, went into use over the past weeks. It asks for typical details such as name, date of birth, and passport number. However, controversial additions include ‘All Social Media Used by Foreigner’, and the names of locations that the individual is expected to visit.

The application also requests banking information and details of any vehicle license plates the foreigner uses. While handing over the data is optional, nowhere on the form does it indicate that filling in the fields is not mandatory.

“If you’re not intending to commit crimes, these questions should not be a problem,” said Chatchawan Wachirapaneekhun, deputy commissioner at the Bureau’s crime suppression unit, who made the amends.

Wachirapaneekhun explained that a sudden increase in Thailand’s expatriate population has led to a burst in crimes committed by foreigners. He suggested that the new information would help track down offenders.

“We want to collect information to keep track of foreigners and be able to contact them directly in the case of emergencies and national security,” he said. “It will support our future work in the case of terrorism and crime that affects Thai society.”

Thailand records huge foreign visitor numbers every year, reaching almost 30 million arrivals in 2015. While the country’s beaches, red-light industry, Buddhist tolerance and liberal laws have made it a hot tourist destination, it also appeals to criminals involved in Mafia gangs, drug dealing, and human trafficking.

In November last year, the New York Times reported that in the fiscal year ending September 2015, Thai police saw over 75,557 thefts, burglaries and robberies – 10.5% higher than the previous year. It also recorded an 8.6% surge in violent crime for the same period.

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