BC Civil Liberties Association raises privacy concerns over Compass Card travel history tracking

Users tap their Compass and PRESTO cards to enter a vehicle, and the data is tracked by the transit agency. Global News

BC Civil Liberties Association is warning the public about a possibility of a privacy breach for people using Compass Cards.

Micheal Vonn of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association claims it is possible to track travel history by simply obtaining a person’s Compass Card.

Vonn says they are concerned about abusive partners, stalkers or police abusing the system to track someone’s movement.

Currently, TransLink says a customer must first register their Compass Card to view their usage history online or to print it out.

Usage history can’t be accessed without logging in with a password and PIN.

However, customers may also view the past eight transactions on a card by tapping on a Compass vending machine.

TransLink says if a Compass Card is lost or stolen, no personal information (name, address, credit card number, etc.) can be retrieved as none is stored on a card.

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When a customer reports a card lost or stolen to the Compass Customer Service Centre, the card is closed and cannot be used or registered by someone else, nor will the past eight transactions be viewable at the vending machine.

READ MORE: 5 things you need to know about the Compass Card and 1 zone bus fare

But Vonn says they are recommending people pay cash for the card or use cash to buy single-use Compass tickets if they want to make sure their name is not linked to a travel itinerary.

“Cash needs to be an option,” says Vonn. “Not many people are going to require that level of privacy and security but some will, so we want to make sure that cash is part of the formulation.”

Vonn says their broader concern is the move toward a system in which your travel gets tracked and what TransLink is doing with that data.

“There is no getting around the fact that it’s a tracking system,” says Vonn.

TransLink says Compass Card customer information is safeguarded using industry-standard security technologies and procedures that adhere to the strict privacy and security requirements of BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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