For those of you who haven’t been following politics in Thailand, apparently today’s an important day. Some of the political parties there have been accused of rigging last year’s election and Thailand’s Constitutional Tribunal is handing down an important ruling today that may dissolve one or more of the parties. Many Thai citizens are preparing for post-decision turmoil, including stocking up on food and other essential supplies.
The Thai government sent out a SMS message yesterday to cell phone users in the country: "All Thais should embrace HM the King’s words of advice. Be conscious. Cherish unity. Be sensible and Respect laws…from CNS." [CNS is the Council for National Security, the military regime currently governing Thailand]
My colleague, Dr. Gerry Fry, shares this note from his friend, David Rubin: "We have heard about protest groups and other movements of young persons all over the world using SMS through cell phones to communicate with each other as to movements and tactics, much to the chagrin of local authorities. This is the first instance I have seen of a governmental authority using the same cell phone facilities to send messages out to potential protesters."
Does the possibility of governments using cell phone SMS to reach citizens spook anyone?
Thanks for keeping an eye out for us out here in Thailand, Scott.
I live just out of town and no word yet of whether demonstrations have had any action. The biggest deterrent could actually be the massive dumping of rain we just got an hour ago…that’ll keep people inside.
Actually, interestingly enough, after the last coup, our school put into place emergency SMS capability to reach all families should school be closed, etc.
SMS is huge in Asia…way more so than the US. On one hand, I see your point about being worried that the govt. communicates to populace this way, but I find it no less invasive than random advertising and promotional fare that comes my way from my phone provider.
You also have to understand that their is tremendous respect here for the King. A message like that would actually serve (quite powerfully) to keep people safe.
By the way…we haven’t stocked up on any supplies…media loves to blow things out of proportion.
There were some communications by cell during the recent incursion/invasion by Israel into Lebanon by governments. I wonder if they were voice or SMS, and which is preferred there?
I don’t know how I feel about government using this tool. Sometimes what is regarded as sacrosanct here in the U.S. and what information is given freely seems very strange to others. My bil works for a large db software company that has a worldwide market. The personal data of workers in Germany CANNOT carry any birth date information to prevent age discrimination, while the U.S. version MUST have the birth date for SSA purposes.
Even more tangentially related, but related to education, you must have your fingerprints cleared through the D.O.J. database to work in public schools in California, BUT, those clearance are done once, at hiring by each individual district, AND they cannot share, so you have to get it redone when you move districts, but it’s never updated if you don’t change districts.
Also, if you volunteer, most districts require fingerprinting (say for field trip drivers), BUT that’s only good in one district. Since the the districts are chopped up into a bunch of Balkans-like states in my geographic region, I work at a school in one district that is only a 3-5 mile drive from where I live. My husband has clearance where we live, but not where I work, and vice-versa. So, I can’t drive in my son’s district, and my husband can’t in the district I work in even though they are a stone’s throw from each other. That information is not centralized and shared because of privacy and band-width/data storage concerns, which IMO, is silly, and inefficient.