Feeds

Spooks want to go fishing in Oyster database

Pearl-diving in London's smartcard beds

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

The UK's spooks have sought full automated access to Transport for London (TfL)'s "Oyster" smartcard network, further extending the amount of travel data available to the government.

The Observer said this weekend that the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has confirmed that the clandestine services have requested full Oyster access, and would target other cities' smartcard travel schemes as they come online.

At present they can request details of an Oyster user's transactions - and hence, time-slugged locations - on an individual basis only, rather than having free rein to search the system as they please. This could include mining the entire database to look for suspicious patterns, and tracking named individuals.

It isn't difficult to avoid Oyster monitoring, as one need merely pay cash when using public transport. The smartcard scheme is significantly cheaper than cash, however, and many righteous citizens might resent paying extra for privacy. Of course, there's always the option of registering an Oyster card under a false name and only ever topping up by cash. Or simply buying a pay as you go Oyster at a ticket window.

Driving in TfL's central area of responsibility offers no escape, since the congestion-charge numberplate-scan camera net was hooked up to the secret terror police following a series of "bomb" outrages in which no bombs were used and only terrorists were hurt. Other cities are also looking at their own electronic traffic management schemes, while the UK motorway system has a handy network of ANPR cameras.

The ICO apparently refused any further comment on the progress of the Whitehall debate regarding MI5/SS and MI6/SIS access to Oyster, citing "national security" concerns as the reason for conducting the discussion in secret.®

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.