Foreigners with expired visas have long been a problem for Thailand, a country whose renowned hospitality, cuisine and cheap standard of living makes it a haven for backpackers. In March, police took fresh steps to combat the issue, banning those who unlawfully overstay from re-entering the country, and the NBTC's proposal was seen as an extension of those efforts.
Following a number of high-profile crimes in which foreigners were found to be the key suspects, the new measure was also interpreted as a means to fight more deadly offenses.
Two Uighur men from China's Xinjiang province are set to go on trial next year for the 2015 Erawan shrine bombing, and two Burmese migrant workers were sentenced to death for two grisly murders on the island of Koh Tao in 2014. In April, Thai intelligence officials warned of planned attacks by Uighur and Chechen militants. Meanwhile, Thursday and Friday saw a series of explosions hit three of the country's most popular tourist resorts, but it was not clear who the perpetrators were.
However, location-tracking SIM cards may not be much help as an anti-crime tool.
"I very much doubt anyone in the security architecture expects this to be a silver bullet solution to concerns about national and public security," Christian Lewis, Asia associate at Eurasia Group, told CNBC. "A southern insurgency, porous borders, complacent street-level police, and corruption would be much more impactful problems to solve if public security were indeed the chief priority."
Indeed, the country's largest terror threat stems from Muslim Malay separatists in southern Thailand, all of whom are Thai citizens, pointed out Justin Hastings, a senior lecturer and terror specialist at the University of Sydney.
The country already has strict rules for foreigners traveling, staying or permanently living in Thailand, so the new plan may not add much more value, Lewis added. "Operators of lodgings are legally required to declare their overseas guests. Foreigners with long-term visas must declare their address every 90 days, and owners of their residences are required to report the alien presence-even if the homeowner is reporting on their spouse," he noted.