“The possibility of linking TransLink’s new Compass card to the province’s new identification card raises significant privacy concerns and the possibility that transit users could be tracked by authorities, say privacy advocates.” (1)

“The idea of linking or combining the cards is laid out in a B.C. Government white paper for the new ID card program and in the Transportation Ministry’s technology plan for 2012-13 to 2014-15. The technology plan notes the ministry is working with TransLink and other transportation providers to “identify opportunities” to link their card functions with B.C.’s identity management program or add new functions.”

…the white paper says the B.C. Services identification card could “replace or augment” bus passes and credit cards, becoming a key part of a digital wallet.” (1)

Currently, the Translink information will not be linked (at least not when I left BC) but, no doubt, it will once the new Translink system has been operating for a while. Then all the information they have been collecting will be linked and you probably won’t even hear about it.  If the government wants to know where you were yesterday, all they have to do is check the database. “You will be able to create a picture of their daily commute, bus routes they take, times they tend to do things,” said Josh Paterson of BCCLA. (2)  And, in many instances, you would even be able to draw conclusions as to what stores/homes they visit.  Very useful if you are a thief, marketer, politician/toady or for a variety of other people/organizations.

”’I don’t expect my bus pass to track me,’ said Vincent Gogolek, executive director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association.”(1)

“Gogolek said the concern over adding the functions of the Compass and the ID card is part of a general concern that compiling or linking personal information creates digital personas that are susceptible to identity theft and allows people’s movements to be tracked.’ (1)

‘The province’s privacy commissioner has already raised concerns over the new ID card and its intended expanding uses, including flagging the need for greater encryption of digital personal information of British Columbians held and used by the government. The B.C. Government’s intention is that as the identity program develops, other government services will be accessed online and in person using the card. (1)

I asked a bus driver if I could get a compass card, put money on it by paying cash, without providing any personal information. She said that I could register it through the internet and I explained that I did not want to register it, that I did not want to be tracked.  She then went into this long talk about how we are already tracked in ways we don’t know about so why worry about Translink tracking us.  That is as illogical as saying that a person/organization steals from you so everyone should be able to steal from you.  I repeated my question and she said that there were something like 57 ways to pay and they reduced it to six.  I repeated my question.  She finally said she did not know if you could pay in cash but apparently she knew all the other ways you could pay.  I phoned Translink and I was told that you could get a compass card, put money on it by paying cash, without providing any personal information.  If your card is stolen then you lose the money on it so, if you choose to pay in cash, either be very careful with your card or don’t put a lot of money on it at any one time.  However, I expect the card can still be tracked (no doubt, it will have a number or some other identifier) but they won’t have your name and other information although they may be able to link it to your picture on a bus/skytrain and through facial recognition technology. (3)

If you pay in cash, and don’t use a compass card, then you will have to pay twice if you transfer from a bus to another bus or skytrain and vice versa. Translink said that they failed to take cash fares into consideration and now it would be too expensive to change.  Just think, all those people working on this project for, no doubt, huge amounts of money and they failed to consider something so obvious and basic.  Or, was it intentional to get people to get a compass card so they can be tracked?

Your provincial identification will be available to so many people and businesses/organizations that, in effect, everyone will have it. So, if they want your information, they won’t have to try to find your care card number, they will just access your provincial identification number which will be on file.

There are other reasons for collecting the information. They and their friends will know more about you than you know about yourself.  If you think putting your information on social media is bad, this is worse.  At least with social media you decide what information you provide, if any.  On the government database you won’t have a choice.  Doctors, other people in the government, teachers, etc. can write what they want about you.  Will a potential employer have your information, will your bank, insurance company, etc.?  Just think about all the people you would not like to have access to all your information.  Identity theft is very likely (see future post “Our Information is Not Protected”).  It will put your safety in jeopardy – do you live alone, are you older or disabled, do you have money, are you female?  If the politicians and their lackeys say your information is protected ask them to prove it, starting with listing the names of organizations, people in the organizations, other people, who will have access to your information (physical access, not just legal access, because the government has very “creative” definitions for the term access) and under what circumstances.  Then ask them to prove, and continue to prove, that no one else has access (Remember, the word of a politician, and their toadies, isn’t worth a damn).  If the politicians/lackeys can’t/won’t provide this information, then they are lying to you.   Until such time as the politicians prove to us what they are doing with our information, who has access, under what circumstances, who benefits, who loses, anything is possible.  One thing I know, the politicians, their toadies and friends aren’t doing this for us.  If they were they would have asked us and they wouldn’t have to hide what they are doing.  I do believe that they and their friends will reap the rewards and we will pay the cost – in so many ways.

I thought the following was a very good comment from Mr. Nagotco:

“The fact that a certain behavior is common does not negate its being corrupt. Indeed, as is true for government abuses generally, those in power rely on the willingness of citizens to be trained to view corrupt acts as so common that they become inured, numb, to its wrongfulness. Once a corrupt practice is sufficiently perceived as commonplace, then it is transformed in people’s minds from something objectionable into something acceptable.
Indeed, many people believe it demonstrates their worldly sophistication to express indifference toward bad behavior by powerful actors on the ground that it is so prevalent. This cynicism ‘oh, don’t be naive: this is done all the time’ is precisely what enables such destructive behavior to thrive unchallenged.” (2)

When people tell me “this is done all the time” I just say “that doesn’t make it right” and/or “then it’s time to stop it”.

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