Law enforcement agencies are dramatically increasing their use of Opal card public transport data to track the movements of people in New South Wales, with approvals for data more than doubling this year.
Internal documents also reveal that police can be handed the information of “collateral cardholders”, or people who are not suspects, when their person of interest’s identity is unknown.
The details of collateral cardholders may be handed over when police request details of all travellers who have used their card at a particular time and place. That may occur, for example, when police have seen a suspect on CCTV, but do not know who they are.
The vice-president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Pauline Wright, said the number of refusals showed that “inappropriate requests are surely being made”.
“Our view still is that requests for this kind of information should only be able to be made by warrant, rather than leaving it up to the discretion of Transport NSW,” she said. “Clearly there’s been a huge increase in two years in the number of requests, so one can only surmise that the circumstances in which those requests are being made are broadening.
“So as police realise how easy it is to get this, there’s a real potential that it’s being requested in completely inappropriate circumstances.”
Source: The Guardian