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

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 …

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Meh

Wow

You Brits might consider just implanting a spy chip in your neck, it would be easier.

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Erm

If someone is raped or robbed near a tube station, or if a suspect is observed entering or leaving the station how is it a bad idea to obtain records to see if you can ascertain who that person is? If you can see them enter then you can look up records of where they left and at what time. You might be able to figure if they took a bus afterwards or got into a car, and possibly the CCTV that shows it. In other words it could turn an unsolved crime into an arrest.

I'm pretty sure every country which had the means to obtain this information would do it, and that includes the US. Indeed, if you are from the US you are no doubt aware that police use EZ Pass, cell phone records, RFID travel cards, records of local hotel visitors, credit card records and everything else they could lay their hands on to solve a crime. The process they obtain the data may be different but they'll obtain it all the same if the crime merits the effort.

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Joke

The problem with iNeckChips™ is the reading distance with the chips. Even the new passports only support reading upto about 20 feet (6 metres, or 0.044 Brontosaurus) until they develop better antennas.

For use on CCTV systems, I believe that the proposal is a barcode tattoo that can easily be read at a far greater distance using the new range of cameras. Obviously the tattoo will only be forced on known criminals, but with the new laws coming in, anyone with an MP3 player or internet connection is a criminal. Anyone without an internet connection is obviously trying to avoid detection and is a terrorist suspect and so will also be tattooed.

If you have nothing to hide...

/Verity

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Anonymous Coward

Where are you from buddy? Just so, y'know, we can compare notes.

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Anonymous Coward

iNeckChips™

iNeckChips™ are good but I propose people also be forced to wear randomly designed, coloured clothes with a huge number on the front and back. Plus maybe a repeating radio beacon blurting out your citizen number.

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Anonymous Coward

"every country which had the means to obtain this information would do it"

Yes, of course they would. What usually happens is they'll first push the means through with all sorts of promises ("only for $foo, honest!" and so on), and then gradually break them until, well, in the UK that world-infamous CCTV network mostly ends up used by councils to crack down on dog poo and littering.

This is obviously petty and more than a little dishonest, and that is the first big problem with any such "gather all data you can" systems. It becomes painfully obvious that if you want to keep any privacy at all and not get accidentally dragged into all sorts of trouble --wouldn't be the first time someone's details ended up in some criminal case dossier they have nothing to do with because the snoopery wasn't specific enough, and worse-- then the only way to do it is to not gather data you don't specifically need in the first place.

Thus, the myopic focus on all the perps that could be found through the data forgets, even conciously sets aside, the risk to the people the law most seeks to protect: The people who've done nothing wrong. They've become collateral damage waiting to happen in a war that was supposedly fought on their behalf. Maybe we shouldn't turn everything in a war then.

Theoretical usefulness is usually the justification for keeping as much as you can, but really it's a nefarious, pernicious even, reversal of the usual order of things. You know, the old and tired "innocent until proven guilty". It means that the risk to innocent bystanders is waved away for mere possibilities of eventually catching *something*. In fact, it leads to people trawling through data to find *something* to pin on some instantly-made perp. The future of that? Trawling through data to find new crimes to charge the people in the data with.

Thus, the very ease of keeping all that data is goading the state to become ever more big brother-like. If we don't mind that, well, all you need to do is sit back and wait for the enforcers. They'll get to you too, eventually.

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It's not "theoretical usefulness"

It if was only "theoretically useful", then the metropolitan police wouldn't be arsed to sweep the database at all or examine CCTV footage.

I can see it now - "Sir, a woman was raped on the commons half a mile from a tube station, should we get onto the transport police to help check the CCTV around the tube entrance, bus routes and oyster cards to see if our suspects fled that way?", "No sergeant that would only be theoretically useful"

It may be the case that CCTV, database searches on phones, travel cards etc. pose a threat to privacy, the argument that they don't help with investigations is demonstrably false as can be determined just by typing "CCTV investigation" into Google News.

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Big Brother

@DrXym

On the contrary, it is entirely "theoretical usefulness" and it is the sort of justification for mass ANPR, facial recognition to be added to all CCTV systems, DNA databases and every other "It's for your own protection, citizen" invasion of privacy which ignores the fundamental principles of presumption of innocence.

"Hello DrXym, this is the Police. There was a crime committed at ($location) and we notice from our records that you were in the vicinity at the time. Can you prove that you weren't involved....?"

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FAIL

You might not know that Oystercards are optional. Cheaper, but optional. You can pay for a single ticket with cash. You can also buy an Oystercard for cash, without registering it.

Aren't there any public transport systems in the USA with prepaid electronic tcketing? I can't quite remember if the magstripe tickets I used on BART in the 1980s were that functional, but I'd be most surprised if they haven't got there yet!

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Big Brother

I'm just waiting...

...until we all have to shave our heads and have a barcode/QRCode permanently tattooed on.

True, we don't have a Department of Homeland Security with their paranoid über-control, but it appears that our plod can just act like them at a whim.

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Joke

I am not a number...

I am a free man.

Does it mean though, I'll get a free mini-moke to tax around in?

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TSA

Not that I agree with it, but I would rather my Oyster data be scanned than be subjected to the occasional "special investigation" by your Constitution-upholding TSA brutes.

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Meh

Warrants and Probable Cause vs Large-Scale Surveillance

In American law, the resaon we have police requirements such as warrants, probable cause, etc. is to make it HARDER for police to abuse their powers (not impossible, just harder).

The IDEA is that by requiring expenditure of police resources (detectives following suspects, getting warrants, etc.), the police will focus their limited resources on actual criminal cases, vs being easily able to jail politcial opponents of The Powers That Be, or enemies of someone who bribed a cop (you'd have to bribe a cop AND a judge...).

I've been robbed at gunpoint, but I still worry more about crime-by-corrupt-government than by the occasional thug.

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@ratfox

Unfortunately its just a matter of time...

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a simple solution to this problem...

Anyone who has been watched looked at investigated checked on THEN

Found innocent, wrong person etc should then be informed that checks have been made on them.

When 6 million people in the UK find this out there will be an uproar.

Then these agencies will be a little more circumspect about trawling your details.

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What makes you think

Similar rules do not apply in the UK, and that US Police don't use the same old tactic of, "Well we can get a warrent if you like, but it's so much easier if you just hand it over" with menace. Policeman are policemen where ever in the world they are.

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"More than 40 million Oyster cards have been issued since they were launched in 2003"

But how many of these have been registered? How can anyone know who an unregistered card belongs to?

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Sir

If you can track an individual on cctv and match it to an oyster card use, you can then use that information to track the oyster card holder, registered or not.

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Anonymous Coward

Top it up, just once will do, ...

... using chip&pin or any other non-cash payment method. It's right there in the records, baby.

If that doesn't do, yes, the CCTV footage, pattern analysis (where the card's been seen, when, and so on), and a bit of looking around in the streets around your habitual stops and stations. It's progressively more work, but the card already narrows it down for them quite a lot.

Datamining is quite a powerful tool, really. It doesn't even have to give you exact answers to be useful. No wonder lazy plod snoop too much.

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Anonymous Coward

@Sir Runcible Spoon

You can do what you describe with standard paper tickets as well. Should we get rid of them and just have coin slots?

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Black Helicopters

It would have to be unregistered, and always topped up with cash. Use plastic once, and the connection can be made.

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Big Brother

The better question in terms of wasted police and cps time, is how do we know who was using the registered cards.

Oh we don't, unless they can collect visual evidence to match the card use, in which case they wouldn't need the card data.

Look forward to some prats in CPS and the Met bringing forward a case that hinges on the card data unsupported, just to have a barrister point the blindingly obvious flaw in the case.

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Sir

@AC

No idea, wasn't really commenting for or against, just making an observation.

As for tracking paper tickets, unless they are >1day tickets you won't be able to track them via the ticket from day to day etc.

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@SRS

I didn't pick up on the lack of judgment either way, sorry about that... While there are a lot of people who only use paper tickets once, anyone with a season ticket from outside London has a paper ticket and these are typically valid for a month or a year.

The thing is, though, that as I read the story (and associated stories), the use of information is less about tracking people over more than one journey, rather about placing someone at a particular point in time, because of a particular event at a particular place.

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Um

You can't actually get an oyster card without registering for one, and you need to associate it with a photocard, British Rail, or TFL.

Mind you, I doubt everybody keeps their details up to date, unless they use it on-line. I also suspect a good few of those 40 Million have been lost.

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@Is it me?

Are you sure? I was able to buy a pre-pay one without providing any details or registering a mere 6 months ago while trolling round london with some friends. Have they changed their t&c's since then?

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Black Helicopters

Met misusing their powers?

So where's the news story? It would quite frankly be news if the Met *didn't* exceed their powers.

Oh well, at least they haven't (yet) connected the system up to remote controlled weapons so they don't need to send an armed squad next time they spot a Brazilian on the tube.

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I don't see around 6k requests/year against 3 billion journeys/year as quite in to the mass surveillance area yet, but clearly it is something to watch to make sure it is not going to grow that way.

I was going to say something funny about spotting a Brazilian and floor-level CCTV, but in this case its not quite appropriate.

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Met shooting

So the met shoot one person who really did look suspicious, not because of his nationality but the clothes he was wearing, heavy coat in summer, in 2005 and you are still bleating on about it. Perhaps you could tell us all when an incident occurred prior to that, there hasn't been one since. So all in all I think in this respect the met have a pretty good record.

I'd much rather walk around any part of London than any city in Brazil.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4463010.stm

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Anonymous Coward

Er, no

You are still remembering the original, discredited, police reports. He was NOT acting suspiciously, he did NOT jump the barriers as initially claimed, he was NOT wearing a heavy coat etc. etc. etc.

I'll agree with you London (even south London) is safer than many urban areas in Brazil, but you need to update yourself on the facts in this case.

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Re: Er, no

Discredited by a political witch hunt. But for whatever reason he was shot it was nearly seven years ago and it says something that Christoph has to go back seven years to have a dig at the met for something that is an almost daily occurence in Brazil.

So, the facts are. Police executions in Brazil, two a penny. Police executions in the UK about as common as magic pixie dust.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Er, no

However, this is London, not Brazil. Besides, two wrongs does not justify murdering an innocent human being.

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@Chris W - Get your facts right

The Met identified the wrong man as their subject and given the bombings of the previous day were very jumpy.

After the shooting the police repeated gave misleading accounts to muddy the water.

Look at the photo on this page and tell me that's a bulky coat.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3378570/De-Menezes-inquest-train-driver-thought-marksmen-were-terrorists.html

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FAIL

Read this:

Chris W, don't be so credulous, and read this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Jean_Charles_de_Menezes

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FAIL

Met shooting

De Menezes was wearing a light denim jacket.

The supposed "target" was a black Ethiopian , De Menezes was light skinned.

It was one of the "police" who was wearing a "Puffa" jacket in warm weather.

You'll be telling us next that De Menezes ran and vaulted over the ticket barrier.

Keep parroting your Met Police issue lies.You might convince more idiots that he got what he deserved.

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@Chris W - Wanna bet?

"Perhaps you could tell us all when an incident occurred prior to that, there hasn't been one since."

Not only did the police waste an awful lot of money raiding the homes of innocent men and shooting them, but when questions were raised, they accused one of the men of being a paedophile. Classy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2_June_2006_Forest_Gate_raid

The Police's original line on Ian Tomlinson was that they bravely tried to save a collapsed man while evil nasty protesters attacked them...that turned out to be kinda bullshit.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Ian_Tomlinson#.281_April.29_First_police_statement

Met lied about Mark Duggan shooting at them first, then started the riots by going after protesters.

http://wsws.org/articles/2011/aug2011/riot-a15.shtml

These were off the top of my head. Want me to actually try?

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Tube station image

That is an image from the front, from the back in the heat of the moment it could look quite different. His relatives claimed he wasn't carrying a bag, the image shows he his carrying some sort of bag behind him. So, we get half truths from everybody.

I'm not claiming two wrongs make a right nor that he got what he deserved, how ridiculous to even suggest that. But if someone is going to drag something up from seven years ago it needs to be put into context.

And yet more references to wikipedia, forgive me if I'm not swayed by those.

And to those who have come up with a few instances of police shootings, yes please come up with more, let's see exactly how many innocent people the met have shot over the last seven years but please keep it to innocent people. Half those mentioned already are not exactly without blame. Prove my defence of the met is unjustified.

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@Greg J Preece

Tomlinson was not shot.

Duggan was a thug and a drug dealer, his shooting was murky but hardly a great loss to society. Using this a reason for the riots is unjustified.

Forest gate incident, the shooting was unfortunate but he didn't die. One of them did have child porn images on his mobile phone but was let off on a technicality. Today just having the imaghes woudl be enough for a conviction whatever your excuse.

Please do try, and try hard.

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"Tomlinson was not shot."

What's your point? It's police thuggery that went completely unpunished, as usual.

"Duggan was a thug and a drug dealer, his shooting was murky but hardly a great loss to society. Using this a reason for the riots is unjustified."

Wow, you are a toad, aren't you? It's OK if we kill the people you don't agree with, then? Should I expect a Met raid this evening? And if you read my comment, I said that the riots were started when protests against the police killing were themselves clamped down on. Suppression of demonstration *is* a damn good reason for further protest, and it leading to the riot is pretty obvious.

"Forest gate incident, the shooting was unfortunate but he didn't die."

Again, what's your point - maiming people you don't like is OK?

"One of them did have child porn images on his mobile phone but was let off on a technicality."

The images that had been added to and subsequently immediately deleted from the phone several years prior? Yeah, that's a technicality... Because the CPS were just *begging* for a reason not to prosecute the guy and find some excuse for the raid, right?

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@Greg

Maybe now that you've responded to most of my post you can respond to the last point and come up with thousands of other examples of police shooting innocent people as the point was made that the police enjoy shooting innocent Brazilians, not pushing them over. After all you did ask if we'd like more examples.

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I wouldn't bet on it...

Look through the gates into Downing Street, past no 10, to the red brick building that sticks out at the end, have you ever seen those curtains open, no, what's behind those curtails has a withering field of fire...

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@Chris W

>> not because of his nationality but the clothes he was wearing, heavy coat in summer

Yes, so much better, because he was wearing a heavy coat in "summer" in the UK.

>> Perhaps you could tell us all when an incident occurred prior to that, there hasn't been one since.

You mean there hasn't been one since yet. We won't count Mark Duggan, because he might not have been entirely innocent.

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Vic
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> the opinion of the pathologist I spoke to was that he could have dropped dead at any time

Then this pathologist was probably Freddy Patel, or someone associated with him. There's a reason[1] Dr. Patel is no longer on the list of Home Office registered pathologists.

The other pathologists involved in the case all agreed that Ian Tomlinson died from blunt force trauma leading to abdominal bleeding. The fact that a copper had just beaten him with a big stick might have had something to do with that...

> I don't think that this can be included in a general "The Met killed

> an innocent person" type of comment.

I would disagree with you. That you find it hard to believe that hitting someone with a baton is not life-threatening is really neither here nor there; the pathologists found what they found. It remains to be seen whether or not PC Simon Harwood will be found guilty of manslaughter at his trial later this year.

Vic.

[1] There are quite a few reasons, actually. Altering contemporaneous notes a year after an autopsy? Submitting an autopsy report on a man a foot shorter that the subject? It's a long list...

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Anonymous Coward

Jean Charles de Menezes clothing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Jean_Charles_de_Menezes#Clothing

"According to the report on leaked IPCC documents, Menezes was wearing a pair of jeans and a light denim jacket. This was confirmed by a photo of his body on the floor of the carriage after the shooting."

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Re: Jean Charles de Menezes clothing

Ah, the fountain of all knowledge wikipedia, must be right then. Follow the link to the source article and you will not find any reference to a photo only what his relatives claim police told them.

"was not wearing a heavy jacket that might have concealed a bomb, and did not jump the ticket barrier when challenged by armed plainclothes police, HIS COUSIN said yesterday."

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IT Angle

I can't imagine it would make for riveting reading...

7:45am Mr X swipes in at Waterloo for Jubilee Line to Stratford

8:00am Mr X still waiting

8:30am Mr X still waiting

9:45am Mr X swipes out at Waterloo and starts walking to Stratford

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@Thomas 4

Gonna be a lot of that when the Olympics arrives.

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