Victoria’s public transport authority is increasingly handing over information about myki users’ movements to police, raising concerns that the smartcard is being used as a tracking device.
The Transport Ticketing Authority says police have made 113 requests about myki users since the smartcards were introduced in late 2009.
There have already been 71 requests for customer movements this year, more than three times the number of requests received last year.
The policy states that personal information about myki customers will be handed to police when ”an authorised police officer certifies in writing that the disclosure is reasonably necessary for the enforcement of the criminal law”.
TTA chief executive Bernie Carolan said police were handed information only when justified. ”Strong privacy controls are maintained at the TTA and any release of data to, for example, the police is only granted when sufficient justification is given. Release of the data is always approved by TTA senior management,” he said.
The reusable smartcard is microchipped and collects information on the movements of about 2.2 million public transport users, including when and where they touch on and off.
Customers who register their myki card must provide their name and either a phone number or postal or email address. Some concession card holders must provide the TTA with their residential address.
Mr Carolan said the authority had declined police requests for customer information on nine occasions, including eight times this year. He would not provide details about why the requests had been declined, saying only they did not meet the required standard.
He said the increasing number of police requests was not surprising as many more people were now using myki.
Australian Privacy Foundation treasurer Jan Whitaker said the private information should not be collected in the first place and could be misused.
”There’s no reason to collect that data. It’s critical for those who can manage their private movement through space to be able to do so without tracking by the government,” she said.
Ms Whitaker said that while full-fee-paying users did not have to register and could remain anonymous, senior and concession card holders had to provide their personal details.
About 51 per cent of myki users, or 1.1 million people, have registered their cards.
In 2009 Liberty Victoria expressed concern about the cards being used as unofficial tracking devices.