One of our correspondents recently enquired about whether or not it was possible to obtain an anonymous Oyster Card (all 7 zones London Underground and Bus travel, rather than the zones 1-3 PrePay card), and got this reply below:
N.B. there is no mention of whether or not the Transport for London and British Transport Police and other CCTV camera operators which cover London Underground Tube and Railway Stations and (offline) on the Buses, have routine and realtime access to the Oyster Card database, or do they have to file an individual Data Protection Act Section 29 request each and every time ?
Will 3rd party retailers also get their hands on your Oyster Card data if and when the EMV feature is used as electronic cash to pay for newspapers , sweets etc., like other Transport Smart Cards around the world do ?
Dear Mr. [......]
Thank you for your email to the Oystercard Helpdesk.
In answer to your query below, I am happy to detail the data protection arrangements for the Oystercard.
We will hold the information that you give us when you complete one of our forms - in this case, the Oyster registration form. This will comprise your name, address, postcode, telephone number and email where you've given it, security code and marketing preferences. Also dynamic data for the ongoing usage of the card e.g. ticket purchases and journeys. This information is purely for the purpose of after-sales service, marketing (where you have opted to participate), research and statistical analysis including travel patterns and conducting surveys. This is to help London Underground plan effective service for its passengers. From the statistics that we gather we can gauge which routes are popular and at which times during the day, thus we can increase the number of trains for travel and so on...
This is also for the benefit of the Customer, by retaining journey data and ticket
purchase data on the Oystercard, if you have a reason to believe that your travel card has been issued incorrectly or you have been charged the wrong amount for a journey made on a PrePay Oystercard, the Customer Service Team can see the information that information and it may be used to help resolve ticketing and refund issues with customers.
Only where you have opted to be contacted by third parties will we share your
details with other reputable companies, other than the state. All information will
be handled in accordance with the terms of existing data protection legislation.
In order to ease your concerns no personal information is held on the card itself.
Just on our database. This is for the use of the Customer Services Department. If you contact the department regarding your Oystercard we use your name and address details along with the verification of your security password (set up at the registration stage) to verify that you are the cards owner and also we require this information to send out replacements when your card is lost/stolen.
Please note that the terms that the state sets itself for gaining access to any
computerised information are not something that Transport for London has any control over. We would only disclose personal information requested by organs of the state where we were legally obliged to do so and in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act, 1998
I hope that this inform has been helpful, if you have any further queries please
call the Oystercard Helpdesk on 0845 330 9876 (8am-8pm, daily)
Oyster Card Helpdesk