Designing a ‘Privacy Calculus’ Framework in a Surveillance Society: from Biometric ID Card to Social Media in Thailand

Dr. Pirongrong Ramasoota

While a privacy calculus requires that individuals compute the positive and negative impacts of disclosing personal information to individuals and organizations, such undertaking cannot be taken lightly in Thailand. Here, privacy is a constitutional right, but a data protection law is lacking that would safeguard the right while promoting fair information practice. Meanwhile, Thailand is among the few countries in the world that enforces biometric citizen ID card on its citizens. The new National Identification Card Act, passed in 2011, has not only penetrated more deeply into the lives of Thai citizens with the requirement for all seven-year-olds to register for the ID, but also enabled a more effective Universal Unique Identifier (UUID) with collection and storage of biometric data including iris, fingerprints, blood group, and facial recognition, in a microchip card. Prior research finds that most Thais are oblivious to privacy implications of the smart ID card mainly because of the calculated benefits from participation in this surveillance scheme. But those with higher social capital tend to be more perceptive. In another privacy-pertinent context such as online social media like Facebook, Thailand is found to be among the top user countries with more than 18 million, making it the13th in the ranking of all Facebook statistics by country. This research endeavor hence proposes to create an analytical framework for a “privacy calculus” in Thailand, by drawing upon the above two contexts, taking into account related concepts like social capital, boundary opening, falsification of identities, and subversion of privacy.

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