back to article ICO slaps TfL over Oyster data hoard

Last month Transport for London made it compulsory for children using the network to carry Oyster photocards. This has raised concerns about the amount of data the company is collecting. Parents and the Information Commissioner are not pleased with the changes. The ICO is asking TfL why it is collecting so much data on young …


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  1. Hywel Thomas

    Looking at the positives…

    If they're tracking Oyster cards, lending yours to an accomplice while getting up to no good could provide a handy alibi. And the first time this doesn't work, or is rejected as being unreliable, they whole integrity of Oyster cards as ID gets chucked, possibly scuppering plans for real ID cards at the same time.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's simple

    Remove the ability to travel for free, that way my bus won't be crowded with overweight sweaty kids who get on for 2 stops in the morning, spend the money saved by not hiking up my mayor of London bill by 10% next year.

    Alien because that's what running to a budget was to KL.

  3. Paul

    It realy isent right...

    And they wonder why children feel persicuted.

  4. TeeCee Gold badge
    Black Helicopters


    The genuinely paranoid adult will buy a ticket.

    "Anonymous" Oyster card swipes in. CCTV (as seen surveying the turnstiles at every tube station) takes pic and the system links the two*. There's your alleged anonymity down the crapper.

    The usual Oyster, "we know what you are / were / will be doing" process can then proceed as normal.

    *The necessary pinning a name to the face stuff is left as an exercise for government surveillance nazis. Of course, a central database of everyone's facial biometrics would be really helpful here........

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Creeping database generation

    Whats the betting that the RIPA will allow govt departments to copy the TfL data into the ID-card database, or councils to track whether you live in the right cachement area or ....?

    Slowly but surely, small changes are creating the ID card database by stealth. This is of course far far more insecure, fragmented and disorganized than the original proposal.

    Mind you, thats probably a good thing. If its insecure, disorganized and scattered around 100 depts, companies and quangos, it'll be so obviously useless that even David Blunkett would have to admit it.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Travelling 2 stops . . . .

    It is even better when a bunch of them get on the bus, taking a couple of minutes then get off at the next stop, with the bus probably having taken longer to get there than what it would have done if they walked.

    Do not see why they should get free bus travel 24/7 anyway. Give it to them to get to and from school (say 7am till 5pm). They should not be travelling for free at 11pm

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    "They should not be travelling for free at 11pm"

    No - they should be in bed by then especially on a school night. I don't know, what's society coming to letting the terror kidz travel wherever they want to go.

    Paris - cos she knows when get off

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Noone seems to be mentioning...

    "We take data protection extremely seriously and information is not passed onto third parties except the company which makes the cards..."

    Why does the card manufacturer need to know anything about the travellers? Tfl MAY (i don't think so!) but the card maker doesn't need to know names addresses etc to make the cards. Clearly a breach of the DP Act as the data is being shared when it doesn't need to be.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Noone seems...

    well if they're photocards, they would be quite tricky to make without any information to put on them

  10. James Bassett

    Why does the manufacturer need the data print it on the card?

    The same reason your credit card company passes all your data up to a credit card manufracturer (usually in the far North of Norway BTW). It's all in the small print.

  11. Nigel

    The real danger

    The real danger is in a bit of data that many will think innocuous. It's the kid's birthdate. If a paedophile gains access to that and the rest (for a kid under 10) he can turn up at the kid's school or tube station with a present, and convince the kid that he (almost certainly he) is an uncle or family friend that the kid has forgotten since last year.

    And it's the only bit of data that they can't justify for dealing with unruly or worse behaviour on the tubes and buses. Yes, they should purge or anonymize the travel history after a week or two (if the police haven't needed it by then, they won't). But the birthday is the most dangerous and unnecessary datum. "Age at time of application" would suffice., if they need to know if the kid is six or sixteen.

    If I were a parent I'd get the birthday wrong on purpose whenever it's asked for.

  12. Nick
    Thumb Down

    Laughable idea

    Hmm how hard will it be for Ratboy or other feral children to get a photocard? Pull a knife on some school kid and take theirs instead. Immediately the excuse for forcing ID cards on the public (to protect you from antisocial behaviour) is invalid since the antisocical won't apply for or keep their own cards.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    <no title>

    I am amazed this is compulsory, I'd have expected to see it in the news. A public service forcing children to be monitored! You mean a child can not buy a single or return ticket from the machine or desk any more, it has to be this Oyster tracking thing? Isn't that a human rights issue?

    And judging by the comments, rather than the article, this is also some sort of freebie for them?

    I get the impression this story assumes the reader has knowledge that only Londoners are likely to have.

  14. Dan Keating

    What ever happened to ..... ????

    It used to be the case that you paid your money .. you got your ticket and you travelled from A to B. Now we have to be profiled, traceable objects that can be scrutinised and measured. It's an insidious culture ... and this is the thin end of the wedge.

    I think the next time I pay for transport .. it will be a one way ticket out of this paranoid dump of a country.

  15. Jiminy Krikett

    smelly stuff

    "your credit card company passes all your data up to a credit card manufracturer (usually in the far North of Norway BTW)."

    Aye... and I bet a pound to a pinch of that smelly brown stuff, they don't copy your details onto a CD then bung it in the post to instantly become "lost"...

    I never really understood any need to be posting CD's, when secure FTP is cheap as chips, and potentially quicker, too.

  16. Dangermouse


    For fuck's sake, mate.

    I was wondering how long it would take for someone to start screaming "Paedophile! Paedophile!" I think your perceived "danger" is tenuous at best. Why go thorugh all the hassle of turning up at school or the tube station (what the fuck?, by the way) when you can just grab the nearest ankle-biter who happens to be passing? The classic "I've got some puppies in the car", for example.

    You're on the wrong web site, sir. This one is more suited for your ludicrous and outraged ramblings. It's HAVE YOUR SAY, by the way, if you cannot get past your red-misted, spittle-generating paranoid fantasies.

  17. dervheid

    Mind your blood pressure there dangermouse!

    You're in danger of becoming that which you profess to detest!

  18. Mark

    Re: Looking at the positives…

    Unfortunately, we already have CCTV footage that you ask for being unavailable if it would prove your innocence. Footage proving *guilt* seems to never disappear like that.

    So why would this alibi be any different?

  19. Andy Taylor
    Black Helicopters

    Information sharing

    When you get hold of a form, sadly not available for download, and read the small print, you will find that your and your child's details will not only be shared with those immediately concerned with running the system, but also with the Metropolitan Police (and your local force if living outside of London). This is to make sure they haven't been in trouble with the police - you don't get free travel if you have been naughty.

    Also, I have heard of someone who registered their child with Oyster using the child's registered name, a name used nowhere else. On their 16th birthday they started receiving junk mail. There's only one place the details could have come from.

  20. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    This in nothing. In Italy...

    ...they're planning to fingerprint all children from Gipsy families, according to today's Grauniad.

  21. Jack Harrer

    I think it's good

    If they got banned from public transport they will need to walk. Fair punishment.

    If they ever got banned...

  22. Bruce Clare


    ...starting now. Get the kiddies used to being scrutinized, prodded and generally treated like shipping containers in an overnight delivery jet, and they'll be acclimated to this crap when they're adults.

    ...Hey lobster, we just turned the temperature up another degree. Is it hot yet?

  23. Charles Smith
    Black Helicopters

    The Price of Liberty

    The price of keeping your travel activity away from easy scrutiny is to pay cash for your ticket. For those people outside of London that is twice the price of the Oystercard fare.

    If you wish to protect your children it costs even more.

    This data should only be used for the purpose for which it is gathered, i.e. To let the kids have free travel on London Transport. Any official who releases that data for other purposes, unless personally authorised in writing by the Home Secretary, should be sent to prison for a couple of years.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tracking using Oyster

    Regarding other comments about being able to be tracked via Oyster...they can certainly do that if they so wish, with the data they record everytime the Oyster card is swiped on entry and exit to the underground.

    I would not be at all suprised if the Police and security services have access to this data(without any kind of regulation, consent of the voters): the inland revenue has access to the data collected on Nectar cards used in supermarkets.

    Haven't people noticed that under Livingston there's been a drive to push as many people into taking up Oyster, by making it much cheaper than tickets.

    TfL want the data that is captured using Oyster!! That's what it's about. What we don't know is just who else has access to this data and how it is being used.

    We need much more transparency and honesty.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    @travelling two stops

    Do not see why they should get free bus travel 24/7 anyway. Give it to them to get to and from school (say 7am till 5pm). "

    Ok, I know I'm just a dumb merkin here, but when my kids are in school,

    they're there from morning to afternoon and nowhere in between. Why would the local delights need free bus from morning to night if they only ride TO school in the morning and FROM school at night? What am I missing here?

  26. andy
    Thumb Down

    @RotaCyclic - Not quite accurate

    - "Haven't people noticed that under Livingston there's been a drive to push as many people into taking up Oyster, by making it much cheaper than tickets."

    I think it's more accurate to say that they have made cash prices ludicrous, just to make Oyster viable.

    Oyster card prices have risen with inflation -- cash ticket prices (for buses) rose 120% in the space of a couple of years (and even more for Tube I think.

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