It is still a military regime V

9 06 2020

There’s been some very strange reporting on military snooping.

Yesterday, Khaosod reported that the “Ministry of Defense on Monday confirmed a proposal asking mobile phone operators to give up the location data of those who were in close proximity to coronavirus patients.”

Today, the Bangkok Post reports that the “Ministry of Defence has denied requesting mobile phone location data from the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) to monitor the Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand.”

The Khaosod report states that in a “leaked document published by academic and activist Sarinee Achavanuntakul, mobile phone operators are asked to provide location logs for the past 14 days of users who are found to contract the virus…. They are also told to provide mobile number information of the users who shared the same location with the patients.”

The Post report states that “Defence Ministry spokesman, Lt Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich, said the ministry has no authority to demand private mobile phone information…”. It said he was seeking to counter “reports that the ministry had asked mobile network operations to send in their customers’ location data to assist with efforts to curb the spread of the disease.”

In both reports, Gen Raksak Rojphimphum, director of defense policy and planning office, is quoted as confirming the actions. He said: “We have good intentions…. We collaborated with different agencies to see whether the plan is possible. We concluded that it is executable, so we sent that letter out for the benefit of outbreak investigation.” In the Post report he tries to backpedal, saying other agencies lead on this. So why the letter? No answer.

Gen Raksak then went on to “explain” that the data was needed “to track mobile phone users by citing the cluster of infections at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium.” The tone deaf general said: “If we had the mobile phone information of all 2,800 people at the stadium, we would have been able to send a text to warn them immediately…”. In fact, if the Army boxing stadium had followed instructions, there wouldn’t have been a cluster.

Increased surveillance seems to be tried and occurring in many countries. However, only in the most authoritarian of countries does the military do this. Again, the regime demonstrates that it is the military running things in Thailand.


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