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News

Tyee Story on TransLink Data-Sharing with Police Prompts Provincial Investigation

Transport authority increasingly discloses rider info, no warrant required.

By Tyee Staff 11 Aug 2017 | TheTyee.ca

British Columbia’s information and privacy office will investigate TransLink’s disclosure of rider data after a Tyee story revealed the transportation authority is increasingly sharing users’ personal information with law enforcement agencies.

“In light of reports that TransLink shared its riders’ Compass fare card information with law enforcement agencies, I launched an investigation into the transportation authority’s collection, use, and disclosure of its ridership’s personal information,” said Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner Drew McArthur in a statement today.

Documents obtained through freedom of information by The Tyee’s Bryan Carney showed that the Metro Vancouver transportation authority is routinely providing police personal information of transit users — including where they travelled — without warrants or notification to individuals.

The amount of information being shared has jumped dramatically in the last two years. The documents show TransLink has received 132 requests from law enforcement agencies for information on transit users so far in 2017, and granted 82 requests. If the rate continues for the full year, the number of requests granted will have jumped 30 per cent over 2016.

The information passed on to police could include name, phone number, email address and a history of almost all travel within TransLink’s network if the individual uses a registered Compass card to pay for transit. More than 900,000 people have Compass cards, though not all are registered.

The Tyee story also sparked a Leadnow petition asking TransLink to “protect the privacy of TransLink riders” and rethink its policies around sharing rider data.

B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner said it would make no further comment until its investigation is complete, and there is no current deadline for the probe.  [Tyee]

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