Records of journeys made by people using smart cards that allow 17 million Britons to travel by underground, bus and train with a single swipe at the ticket barrier are among a welter of private information held by the state to which MI5 and police counter-terrorism officers want access in order to help identify patterns of suspicious behaviour.

One solution being debated in Whitehall is an unprecedented unlocking of data held by public bodies, such as the Oyster card records maintained by Transport for London and smart cards soon to be introduced in other cities in the UK, for use in the war against terror. The Office of the Information Commissioner, the watchdog governing data privacy, confirmed last night that it had discussed the issue with government but declined to give details, citing issues of national security.

Now that the Oyster card can be hacked, we learn that MI5 thinks the system is good enough to assist in preventing terrorism.

The two situations don’t quite sync.


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One comment
  1. Steve J says:

    After I saw this report on your blog and other websites I fired off an email to Oyster to ask further information about this, and whether or not it impacted on my contract with Oyster with regards to Data Protection etc.
    I have just received a very odd phone call from someone claiming to be from Oyster, (I didn’t give them any identifying info other than my email address and name in the email I sent them)
    He sounded very irate and demanded I tell him where I got the info from. I told him to Google “Oyster +MI5” where it shows around 67,000 hits. He picked up on the article by The Guardian and told me to ignore it as it was “a load of left wing nonsense” and to ignore rumours I read on the net. He also told me that TfL only hold travel data for 8 weeks. He also said he’d be greatful if I didn’t spread rumours, not that I have at all, I’d just queried what I’d read in the press. I did feel like I was being questioned more than I should be.
    Also off that the number that called me 020 3045 0010, is an unrecognised number if I try to call it back! Presume now that I’m gonna be on some sort of MI5 watchlist.

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