back to article Spooks want to go fishing in Oyster database

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 …

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Black Helicopters

Avoiding tracking

Yeah, spend double normal fares by paying cash - I think not.....

Go the false name/cash only route.

Bastards....................

Anon for obvious reasons

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Black Helicopters

Enviro-plot!

It's not a security thing anymore!

It's the bloody enviro-nazis trying to make everyone so paranoid that they'll abandon their cars and either walk or cycle everywhere.

The helecopters need to be "Green" not black!

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Black Helicopters

Nothing to fear...

then use Oyster and be tracked...... Something to fear then pay cash and wander where you will......Duhhh.

How much are we paying for these prize idiots to come with these bright ideas?

Ahh, sorry, they have to come up with silly ideas to justify all the pork we're letting them have.

Anon. for very obvious reasons (not that it will stop them of course).

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Black Helicopters

I find it difficult to believe

that they don't already do this. Presumably they now want "official" access so that the data can be used in evidence.

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Anonymous Coward

Anonymiser

The false name/cash only route wont really work, they can get the Oyster card number off of your card just by inspecting it visually, which if they really wanted to they can do - just have a bunch of ticket inspectors asking for Oyster cards & or just wait till you top up and get your picture from CCTV

What they are looking at doing is so wrong that we should refuse to take part in it.

Get on buses and refuse to pay more than 90p.

Leave the system, work from home, get a bicycle/motorbike.

Mind you they will track your every move via your number plate with all the ANPR cameras.

Best bet of all, lets just all leave London/the country.

After all for 3 weeks in the summer of 2012 its going to be hell on earth - and who really asked for/backed our application for the damned games?

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Anonymous Coward

The right to privacy

Everytime the spooks police or anyone else accesses a database on you, the holder of the database should be required to inform you unless they have a court order justifying the risk of a future crime if you are informed.

If they have nothing to hide, then they have nothing to fear in the release of their snooping activities.

There's simply no reason for the secrecy clause in RIPA if it cannot be justified on a case by case basis before a judge with evidence. By default people have the right to privacy, so in the absence of evidence they are entitled to their privacy. And they're entitled to judicial process before losing their privacy, well we can't hope for that, but at least judicial process before losing their privacy IN SECRET!

It's all very creepy how much like Soviet Russia UK has become. No doubt we'll see fake tax claims used as a political weapon next, like Putin does? Does any elected politician dare to demand curbs on the spooks powers? Are we already too late?

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Black Helicopters

Sigh

Haven't 'they' seem all the films ? The Gattacas and Minority Reports and Logan's Runs and Robocops and Demolitions Man and Brazils ?

Everyone's a suspect.

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Paris Hilton

What data will they be mining

A very important question is what they will be using the mined data for. I'm sure they'll say that it is to defeat terrorism and then end up using it to track tax evasion and fraud and eventually jaywalkers. In much the same way that the NatWest defendants were extradited to the US using a piece of legislation designed to stop terrorism, not fraud.

This is quite clearly the thin end of an extremely Orwellian wedge.

- Kathana's friend Paris because she's clearly more of a looker than that Jordancon.

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Black Helicopters

data still need to be accurate.

Let's assume the system has been developed by the average Jon Codepisser, which means it discards many Oyster/gate recordings, that the serial number on the card is not the one embedded on the chip, that gate/turnstile's asset number is not being properly associated to the right tube station and more ...

Coincidence all the above is true ... you might get invited to a spooksy interview because you entered the tube at London Bridge & exited at Heathrow only 5 minutes later.

AC: Anonymous Commuter & Average Codepisser.

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Silver badge
Alien

Denial Tertiary and Enlightenment Phase ...... To Cold Turkey or Not to Cold Turkey

Given the tenuous handle/finger hold they have on the mountain that is Global Security Presently, "national security" would hide many local Networks InterNetworking Failings. I wonder if they are Non InDependent and Tied to AIMonopoly Supply Contract........ which would of course, be a Rogue Chancing his Mean Spirit and Rotten Luck with Ill Gotten Gains and that just wouldn't be full hurley stick, now would it?

And that would be probably Illegal too, breaching everything that Democratic Socialist Capitalism stands for....... The Further Sharing of Wealth for Future Prosperity.

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Pirate

national security?

well, if this 'full oyster access' request, and it's 'proposed' use is so secret, on the basis of "national security"..

then to me it means that we, the citizens of the UK, must be the percieved 'security threat'.

it is us, the 'general public' that our 'authorities' fear.

this is because they fear that sooner or later we'll have had enough of their greedy and stupid manipulation and control of us.

ask yourself why it is that in our 2008 national security budget has the highest percentage of investment in monitoring (and controlling) 'social networking' (all terrorists obviously..), than any other 'threat' area.

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Anonymous Coward

Tracking the wrong people

Miscreants will either pay the premium for cash tickets, or regularly replace PAYG cards, possibly using complicated schemes to obfuscate the usage of the cards.

If person A travels from Y to Z and person B travels from W to X, but they meet at M in the middle and swap cards it will look like card (a) has gone from Y to X and card (b) has gone from W to Z. The "Authority" will never make the link.

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Ash
Thumb Down

Godwin's Law

Need I say more?

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Pirate

RFID to go

Next great improvement in efficient transport/tracking the rfid chip under the skin - its so logical! Anyone else been watching THE BBC's excellent drama series The Last Enemy? Highly pertinent. If they want a test of Britishness might I suggest the refusal to accept this sort of crap - very brit.

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@ amanfromMars

I understood the individual words, but as a paragraph, WTF are you on about?

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Yeah right....

...are they honestly trying to make out like the security services haven't had full access to the Oyster database since day one? I find that very hard to believe.

In fact it wouldn't surprise me at all if the whole Oyster project was instigated by the security services in an effort to keep tabs on who, how, when and where people use the transport system.

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Silver badge

Customer loyalty

cards next.

Nectar points for fertiliser purchases.

Has anyone been watching the beebs "The last enemy"? Not so much fiction as prediction. We are already over half way there.

Our public servants are now our masters. They plan to keep it that way.

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Silver badge

I wonder

What would a public opinion poll show with the following question:

"What do you consider the biggest threat to the British way of life

a) terrorism?

b) climate change?

c) global economic recession?

d) HM Government?"

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g e
Silver badge

It's all very creepy how much like Soviet Russia UK has become

More like the USA, surely?

Let's join the EU properly and get Euros so all that Brent Crude can no longer be priced in dollars.

About time someone worked out we're a lot closer to Europe than Washington (hint, look at a fkn map, guys)

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3x2

The Wedge

<...>This is quite clearly the thin end of an extremely Orwellian wedge.<...>

I think we are well past the "thin end".

Getting schemes installed in the first place is the hard part. After that you just keep adding new uses to keep the pork flowing.

See ... You get your population wide DNA database up and running using murderers and sex offenders - everybody nods sagely, what a wise move. Then out of the woodwork comes a "new benefit"

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/17/kid_dna_print_fracas/

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Hmm

Other ideas - top up in the off-licence or corner shop to avoid CCTV, buy a card every time you come to London and use it *once* (National Express sell them on the damn bus), touch in but don't touch out (costs four quid a time but they won't know where on earth you left the Tube), fry the card during the journey then social engineer your way past the barriers...

No, I've no idea why they'd want to use a system that's already easily defeated as an efficient people tracking mechanism. The most useful thing you can data-mine out of it is how people move around London in order to improve public transport in the right places, which I'm certain TfL do already, and which is a perfectly sound use of the data.

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I have been joking about this for ages...

.. and only 3 weeks ago I finally ditched getting a paper season ticket for an oyster for "convenience".. How does this not surprise me ?

Anyway, didn't a group try to royally screw up those loyalty card programs by arranging meets and swapping them over every few months? Is there a chance of this happening for cash based unregistered oyster cards?? Or is this against the EULA?

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Black Helicopters

Pass the parcel

Wouldn't be very hard to exchange Oysters (?) with other miscreants en route, maybe several times. Would make following the audit trail a bit interesting...

Even with CCTV on the stations it would be well nigh impossible to figure out what was going on. And if you had lots of people making 'strange' journeys it would amount to data pollution wouldn't it?

Might be fun for a flash mob to try out.... <cough>

Anon because etc etc...

p.s. I see amanfrommars has a keen interest in this forum. Bless.

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Black Helicopters

Use multiple cards

If you want to reduce the quality of the tracking data, one option is to use multiple unregistered oyster cards topped up with cash only.

Switch between them randomly to reduce the number of connected trips (this removes the benefit of daily fair capping though).

Furthermore, you don't want to hold on to any of the cards for too long. If you can swap cards with members of a large enough group, it adds doubt about whether you made any of the previous trips on a particular card.

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Black Helicopters

The next step

...is surely to link Oyster cards, loyalty cards, and any other database they can think of into the already-bloated National Identity Database, which can then be renamed the Master Suspect List.

That should sort out those nasty Turr-ists / thought-criminals / unsavoury protesters / people who voted the wrong way...

Anonymous (as if that has any meaning anymore)

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Pirate

Good job oyster is broken then

Its a good job mifare the technology underpinning the oyster system has been broken, before long i suspect it will be possible and relatively easy to snarf someone elses oystercard data (laptop and reader in a bag then spend a day on the tube in close proximity it people with oyster cards in their pockets) then you will be free to travel as someone else (and run up a bill on their tab)

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Stop

Just so you know

Oyster card data is already used by the Police, though not quite in this way. A number of offenders have laready been caught because the police have requested their Oyster card data to find out if they were in the vecinity of a crime, or series of crimes when they occured.

I think you'll find that they have the right to ask for this kind of information on an individual if they need it, and pretty much always have had. It's only the advent of systems such as Oyster that has made it possible. You could have an annonumous Oyster card, but then if it gets stolen it can't be traced.

By the way this is no different to your credit card, mobile phone, etc, all of which can be viewed by the Police and Security Services if they believe they have cause.

Credit cards and alike are already monitored for suspicious transaction patterns by the banks, who I suspect, and hope, tip off the security services if they find anything really odd, like large purchases of fertilizer by private individuals who aren't farmers.

if you don't want your life monitored, then ditch your car, ditch you cards of any kind, pay cash for everything, and to hell with the inconvenience. And don't vote Labour or Conservative at the next election, make sure you vote for someone else though because not voting just makes our democracy worse than it already is.

Personally if anyone from SISs wants to dig into my life good luck to them.

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Black Helicopters

Anyone remember

the MET's recent guidance on behaviour for which you should report someone as a "Suspected Turr-ist"?

I have a feeling that "Swaps Oyster Cards with someone else mid-journey", "fails to touch-out", or even "tops up their Oyster with cash" may be added to this list in future...

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Anonymous Coward

false name unnecessary

"the option of registering an Oyster card under a false name"

You don't need to. You can get a card absolutely anon and for free (used to be £3 IIRC, no longer).

Get several, use at random if you must.

I agree with Tom Barry about data mining for finding general flow patterns for improving the transport system seem the only valid use. I don't know why gov't knobs would want access to it; they've got all the CCTV they could want.

The real problem is that people in the main seem quite happy to not care about what's going on - they don't even find out because they can't be bothered. If I point out these kinds of things to some of my mates, they are indifferent.

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Get rid of them each time you use them!

You can buy a PAYG oyster card with exactly the value of the fare for your single journey (plus £3 deposit). When you arrive at the other end you can hand it in and get your deposit back. This has two benefits:

1. They can't track your movement patterns* and

2. It wastes time for the people at the till - if enough people clog up the system by doing this it might have impact as a kind of protest

*well of course they can track you on CCTV if they want, but if you have to spend time in the hell-hole that is the london underground, you might as well make the government work for their privacy invasions.

As a previous poster mentioned, this obviously has nothing to do with terrorism, as terrorists can use cash, walk (still legal, so I hear), use a bike etc.

Or just leave the country and never go back. It's a lot nicer out here (everywhere else in the world!).

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Happy

Re: Vladimir

That's an easy one - Yes Minister answers all yet again. You'd get whatever answer you wanted, depending on what questions you asked the respondents before the main one.

If you wanted response a) you'd ask "Do you believe that terrorists are active in this country?" "Did 9/11 make you feel less safe?" "Do you believe that another July 7th will occur?", then ask the main question.

For b) you ask "Do you believe human activity affects the environment?" "Are you worried about rising sea levels?" etc. For c), "Are you worried about rising interest rates/inflation/debt?" For d), "Are you concerned about increased proliferation of speed cameras?" "Do you feel you are increasingly treated like a criminal?"

You then put out your press release emphasising the response to the last question -which I guarantee will be heavily in favour of the response you set out to get - and ignoring the initial ones.

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@Steve re amanfrommars

Actually, that is probably the most lucid comment I have ever seen from him. Just read it a little slower and you'll see that what he says makes perfect sense - 2 people play switcheroo with their PAYG oysters mid-journey, thus covering the true start-end points of each person's journey.

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Silver badge
Alien

dDeep Dig IT ..... ESPecial Operations and Applications

"p.s. I see amanfrommars has a keen interest in this forum. Bless." ... Pass the parcel By Anonymous Coward Posted Monday 17th March 2008 14:07 GMT

Yeah, AC .... Here IT is Virtually 4RealIT2. AIPlayGround for AdultERated Memes.

Real SP00KS MetaDataBase ..... Original Source is WTF we are on about, Steve.

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New British Industry

Got it!

Britain claims it doesn't have enough prisons to house the neds, yardies and assorted other foreign crims currently in the system. I can only assume that other EU countries are suffering the same problem.

So, with the introduction of cams at every lamp post, DNA databases for everyone, data mining on everything from your bank account to your betting account, I think I've finally seen what's going on.

Britain is being prepped to become the EU prison island. Wonderful! After decades of post-empire aimlessness, Brits finally have something at which they can excel. The entire island will soon be home to the EU's worst and Britain will, once again, become the world's leader in a current and relevant industry.

Oh, sorry about you non-crims that actually live there. Still, can't make an omellette and all that, eh?

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Worried?

You have to ask yourself, what's better for us? The fact that the intelligence services wont have to ask nicely before they get key data on us, or the fact that they're unable to do their job sometimes because it's a pain in the arse getting the data they need.

Both of these things are potential threats, on the one hand you have the fact that your right to privacy is being eroded. After all, your friends or neighbours could get hold of the information if it's accessable and discover that you like looking at pictures of naked grannies on the internet and traveled to Soho last month.

On the other hand, you have people who are killed because a terrorist's was unable to be properly tracked when he got onto the London Underground.

You could also take the missing third hand and just make do with what we've got at the moment. Which of course leads you to being paralysed with fear over your course of action and a government that just takes fat pay cheques for doing nothing.

-----

Personally I ask for only one thing, the right to privacy inside my own home. Once I shut that door, as long as they have no reason to suspect that I'm up to something illegal, I don't expect to be monitored by the government or a private company. I can tolerate the idea that my Oyster card movements can be tracked if needs be.

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RW
Boffin

@ Sillyfellow

"we, the citizens of the UK, must be the percieved 'security threat'. it is us, the 'general public' that our 'authorities' fear."

Don't be silly, fellow! Of course that's the case. After all, the citizenry of the UK shows an amazing and inexplicable resistance to NuLabour's schemes to create "The New British Man" via brainwashing and propaganda, and must therefore be forcibly instructed in Proper Behavior Befitting The System. Or something.

I wonder if the yobs are unwittingly protesting regimentation and thought control when they kick some innocent to death. Is there some kind of sociological principle that the more you try to control every detail of life, the less control actually ensues?

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Anonymous Coward

"if they believe they have cause"

"By the way this is no different to your credit card, mobile phone, etc, all of which can be viewed by the Police and Security Services if they believe they have cause."

All men are equal, but some people can view Oyster records when they feel they have cause and others just think there should be judicial process behind it and evidence of a crime checked by a judge. Just like they have in EVERY OTHER FREEKING COUNTRY!

"Credit cards and alike are already monitored for suspicious transaction patterns by the banks, who I suspect, and hope, tip off the security services if they find anything really odd, like large purchases of fertilizer by private individuals who aren't farmers."

Yeh, we started down a slippery slope and now we've slipped further down, and people argue that it's OK because you slipped down some way already. Hey we've already undermined the privacy thing, so lets undermine it a little more.

"if you don't want your life monitored, then ditch your ...."

Or campaign for more privacy and judicial process.

"Personally if anyone from SISs wants to dig into my life good luck to them."

Why stop there, maybe you're not a terrorist but you a thief, so the police should be able to monitor you, or perhaps a puppy puncher? What about RSPCA getting that powers. Perhaps you do things that reduce others safety, ROSPA should get the power too, perhaps you undermine democracy so how about letting politicians have it too. Perhaps you will attack my network, so I'd like access to all that info on you. Maybe you will park in my parking place....

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Anonymous Coward

@RFID to go and others

Back in the 1980's, there was an excellent series with Edward Woodward - the series was called '1990' and was an updated Orwellian look at the Britain of the future.

Some of the episodes covered a number of points that have been discused in these pages in some depth; security needs versus individual privacy. I remember reading about the death of Dr D Kelly over the WMD's and compared it to an episode called "ASH" (Authorised Systematic Harassment) in which a scientist received lots of little brown envelopes and eventually takes his own life due to the pressure being put on him. There was another epsiode in which movements of "suspect individual" were tracked by by a (rather crude) form of data mining.

At the time, the various critics said that the series was very good, Woodward was a great actor, but most of them felt the storylines were 'unbelievable' and too dystopian. The strange thing is that almost every storyline has already come to pass, but without a murmur. I also note that the series has never been released on video or DVD.......

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Anonymous Coward

@ Paul

"...On the other hand, you have people who are killed because a terrorist's was unable to be properly tracked when he got onto the London Underground...."

Terrorists who are too stupid to be able to outfox this "tracking system" aren't going to be able to kill *anyone*. A combination of cash, PAYG and actual identifiable cards along with the odd bus and taxi ride or a fold down pushbike will *easily* erode the use of this for catching real terrorists; the mechanisms are there for catching crims. All this does is legitimise shopping trips which will catch whom, precisely?

Well, you and me, who've done nothing wrong. Until the Govt decides we *have* (whether via malice or incompetence). Maybe we get away with a brief inconvenience and an apology, or maybe we end up accused of crimes we didn't commit.

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Silver badge
Flame

Repeat After Me

I HAVEN'T BROKEN ANY LAW!

I KNOW WHO I AM AND I DON'T HAVE TO PROVE THAT TO ANYONE!

-- Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Ezard in "The Last Enemy".

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Pirate

Of course the great masses are guilty of something!

We're all providing data that contaminates the database and makes it harder to find the needles in the haystack! If we were all locked up then only the terrs would be out and about and it would be easy for TPTB to follow them and arrest them.

Of course, such a scenario would be unnecessary because said terrs would be unable to terrorise anyone.

Think I'm crazy? Believe me, there are people in Positions of Authority who are crazier still!

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Mandatory titles suck...

I'm surprised no ones pointed out the obvious that when travel cards, or oyster cards in this case, are monitored then the big bad terrorists simply pay cash. Until, of course the use of travel cards is the only way to pay for transport which Im sure will happen at some point.

Still another point that is made quite often but that needs t be repeated is that there was never any of this carry on when the IRA was bombing Britain. Weighing it up, I'd say that the IRA was a much bigger threat than some 17 year old student who hates the world.

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Coat

EU prison island

Has to go to tender:

- the Aussies and yanks are reckoned to be ahead. Cheaper land and prior experience.

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Black Helicopters

RFIDs implanted in babies at birth

You know they do it already, don't you?

The chip is inserted into the back of the neck after birth and just before baby is given to Mum to hold.

That machine that goes 'ping' is NOT a heart monitor.

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Coat

@Paul

The usual arguments such as "Won't somebody please think of the poor children being killed by terrorists" are just a waste of time and a diversion.

I have the right to go about my business unhindered in my own home and in my own country.

Just over 50 people have died in terrorist attacks in the last 10 years. 50, more people have died choking on peanuts in that time and yet do we ban peanuts?

Over 3000 people die every year on the roads yet do we ban driving?

To get some perspective, bad people are trying to do bad things all the time. And destroying the basic Freedoms that people have in order to stop a committed minority is just plain wrong.

Oh I give up, I don't need a coat because I have nothing to hide in it.

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Why All The Fuss

Why are people so paranoid, i know there is also the old saying that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear (or words to that effect).

Why are you bothered, of course the security services have always had access to the data regarding oyster cards, just because it has been publicised now then everyone jumps on the bandwagon and starts complaining.

There are benefits to having oyster cards, data mined - it allowes TFL to improve services without this data it would be more difficult to improve routes and services......

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Silver badge

@ Robert Oakes

"Why are people so paranoid, i know there is also the old saying that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear (or words to that effect)."

Have you curtains on your bedroom and bathroom windows? Do you post letters in envelopes?

Anyway, it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you.

"Why are you bothered, of course the security services have always had access to the data regarding oyster cards, just because it has been publicised now then everyone jumps on the bandwagon and starts complaining.

There are benefits to having oyster cards, data mined - it allowes TFL to improve services without this data it would be more difficult to improve routes and services......"

We're bothered *precisely because* now they're admitting to it. At least before, the authorities had to be able plausibly to deny that they had been snooping on Oyster card records; which meant in practice that they had to (1) be discreet, not tell anyone else what they'd found (if someone discovers a secret of mine, it's not so bad for me if they are bound to secrecy themself), and (2) back it up with other evidence that would have been sufficient in its own right to secure a conviction. We know that they routinely exceed their authority, no matter how much we allow them. Giving them the green light to spy on everyone is just asking for trouble.

Also, improvements to routes and services can be made based purely on aggregated total numbers of people, without any way of identifying any of those individual people. There is a world of difference between SELECT COUNT(*) FROM stuff WHERE foo LIKE "%" and SELECT name,address,acct_no,sort_code,balance FROM stuff WHERE foo LIKE "%". We need to devise -- and implement -- proper standards for aggregation and anonymisation of data.

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Anonymous Coward

@Robert Oakes

"Why are people so paranoid"

You and the rest just dont get it do you ?

If i signed a dotted line saying you can monitor everything i do, i wouldnt complain, so:

1 . this is against my own decision

2. as soon as you do something wrong they have you by your number not by name ready for lockup.

3. Politiricians come on the TV and promise fake promises they dont deliver ie. EU refrendum blah blah blah - They ignore the advice of the voters ie the war, road charging blah blah - Blair and his illegal war crimes blah blah

and yet you expect us all to sit here and take it like mugs be made a criminal without actually commiting a crime and yet the real criminals the ones in power get away with it ? they just quit ? get a new job as EU Peacemaker WTF is going on in this free world ?

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EU .. not such a good idea

@ ge [[Let's join the EU properly and get Euros so all that Brent Crude can no longer be priced in dollars. ]]

Actually .. lets not .. All of the totalitarian new laws, all of the cultural sabotage (like destroying the rural post offices for eg) and a massive EU tax burden .. all courtesy of the EU.

Look up the definition of Fascist, then compare and contrast with the recent actions of the EU over the consti^H^H^HLisbon Treaty.

Europe in general and GB in particular became a major international force, out of all proportion to country size when we were a loose collection of mostly friendly countries. The closer we come to the United States of Europe, the lower down the league table we slip. If we try and imitate the federal systems in the massively failing USA or the completely defunct USSR, guess what will happen to us.

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@ Andrew Meredith

"All of the totalitarian new laws, all of the cultural sabotage (like destroying the rural post offices for eg) and a massive EU tax burden .. all courtesy of the EU."

Have you any reference for that? In my limited experience, parts of The Continent are so rural as to make an English village look more like a town by comparison ..... yet they all have local post offices. And again in my limited experience, Continental people don't bend over and accept things so readily.

Personally, I'd be more in favour of Scotland, Wales and the Regions of England seceding from the UK and joining the EU as independent nations.

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