Feeds

Met thumbed through Oyster card data up to 22,000 times in 4 years

Requests for info on passengers' movements up 15%

Boost IT visibility and business value

The Metropolitan police has requested Oyster card data relating to citizens and other personal information from Transport for London (TfL) more than 22,000 times since 2008, according to figures published by the capital's transport authority.

The force requested personal data TfL holds relating to citizens 5,295 times in 2008; 5,359 times in 2009; 5,046 times in 2010; and 6,258 times in 2011, according to a response to a freedom of information request from Guardian Government Computing. The figures also show that the force has made 264 requests for such information this year so far.

TfL said that it could not provide a breakdown of the number of requests made by the Metropolitan police just for passengers' Oyster card data alone, but a spokesman for London's police force told Guardian Government Computing that the majority of requests were likely to be related to Oyster information. Other than Oyster data, personal information requested would include CCTV images and details of TfL staff, he said.

The transport authority said that it receives "many requests" for information pertaining to different crime types. Examples over the last four years include requests for Oyster data to assist with the police's investigations into offences such as theft, robbery, missing persons and sexual offences.

More than 40 million Oyster cards have been issued since they were launched in 2003, with in excess of 3 billion journeys on TfL's network made each year using the cards. The transport authority stores data for two months after a journey has been made with an Oyster card.

Nick Pickles, director of privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said that it was important that electronic methods of payment and identification do not no become "a massive surveillance exercise".

"The escalating use of this data by law enforcement agencies highlights the risk that these databases are increasingly being used by authorities instead of tried and tested methods," he said.

TfL is overhauling its ticketing system and is set to accept contactless payments on selected networks later this year. It has said that it would like to move away from travel information being stored on individual cards to a system where most travel data is stored in TfL's back office.

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Has Europe cut the UK adrift on data protection?
EU reckons we've one foot out the door anyway
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Government's 'Google Review' copyright rules become law
Welcome in a New Era ... of copyright litigation
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.