The topic of the London Underground Oyster Smart Card scheme is now under discussion on the White Rose blog: No Pearl in this Foul Oyster
Mayor Ken Livingstone "won" this year's Big Brother Award in the Worst Public Servant category, "nominated because of his obsession with travel and transport surveillance"
Transport for London has a poor record on Privacy e.g. by recording the details of journeys of all the vehicles entering or leaving the London Congestion Charge zone, and trying to force people to give up their Data Protection rights during the online registration process.
Now that the Contactless Smart Card infrastructure (similar in principle to RFID tags, but using larger, more expensive and more complicated cards) is in place, there are no technical or legal safeguards, only policy and economic ones to prevent the routine matching of the massive amounts of CCTV Surveillance in Tube stations with the name, address and possibly credit card details of the season ticket holders using the Oyster Contacless Smart card.
London Tube stations at Mile End and Liverpool Street are testing Suspicious Behavior computer systems linked to their CCTV control rooms, using secret criteria.
Where are the published rules about what constitutes suspicious behavior in a public place ? Why is exiting from an escalator in one particular direction rather than another considered to be suspicious by the IPSOTEK Cromatica software ?
If anythings is flagged as suspicious, surely the temptation will be to access the Oyster database to attempt to identify the people involved ?
Given modern trends in the way that surveillance is used, it is quite likely that perfectly innocent bystanders, or people travelling a few minutes before or after, will have their Oyster database details pulled to identify and harrass them as "potential witnesses", even though they are obviously not involved in the incident itself
An example of this occurred with the murder of Marsha McDonnell earlier this year, where the CCTV footage from the late night bus where she was travelling on the lower deck, was broadcast on TV etc. The authorities chose to use this to hunt down possible witnesses e.g. passengers on the top deck of the bus, and even some on a completely different bus, who had not come forward, obviously because they had nothing to do with her murder which happened a few minutes after she got off the bus down a sidestreet away from the bus route. These witnesses were oblivious of her, and givien the lighting conditions, of anything else outside the bus itself.
In this case, CCTV surveillance neither prevented the murder, nor did it help to find any suspects, but it was used to hunt down witnesses. To many people having your CCTV picture shown on televison associated with a murder investigation brands you as a suspect not as an innocent witness.
If the Oyster Card system (which is also installed on Buses as well as at Tube stations) had been in place then, it is safe to assume that the central database would have been used to track down and harrass these innocent non-witnesses.