Presto card tapping reader

Metrolinx issues new PRESTO privacy policy

Metrolinx (ON) has adopted a new privacy policy for its PRESTO smart card after the Toronto Star reported that the agency shared rider travel data with police.

The new policy tries to balance the needs of law enforcement with the desire to protect customer privacy.

The policy says that a court order will “generally be required” when police seek cardholder information for alleged crimes that take place outside the transit system. Warrants will also be required for requests seeking information from multiple cards or for multiple weeks of travel.

However, Metrolinx will not require a court order for time-sensitive investigations, such as missing persons cases or other emergencies. Nor will a warrant be needed for investigations of alleged crimes that occurred on the transit system.

Metrolinx will require officers to get authorization from a supervisor for all data requests, and the agency will review each case before releasing information.

Finally, the agency will publish an annual report to summarize the number of data requests Metrolinx received and its response.  The report will be posted online.

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster defended the policy, saying that requiring a warrant could delay a time-sensitive investigation. “Especially on our network, we have a responsibility to exercise due care, and to do what is effective and efficient to ensure our transit system is safe,” he said.

The policy was drafted in September and refined in consultation with the public.  Metrolinx has submitted the policy for review by the Ontario information and privacy commissioner. Pending IPC approval, the policy will take effect in January. Link to full story in Toronto Star.

Photo credit: PRESTO Card/Flickr © All rights reserved

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