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Can the government track my Oyster card movements?

Oyster card trackingDid you know that the authorities can track your movements with your Oyster card?

UKIP politician Nigel Farage stated recently that he doesn’t own one for this very reason. And it’s true that if you register your Oyster card – which a lot of people do in case they lose it, or if they have discounts applied in their name – the spooks are, in theory, able to track and trace your movements. They could find out everywhere you’ve touched in and out, which if you use public transport a lot, means they’re able to track your movements pretty darn well.

If you have privacy concerns, you can still use an Oyster card. Just don’t register it under your name. Whether Nigel Farage is aware of this, or if he was simply grandstanding, isn’t clear. Similarly, if you don’t like the idea of your actions being tracked and monitored, don’t use a supermarket loyalty card, and avoid paying by credit or debit card where possible. Oh, and avoid the Internet.

Sadly, as the recent revelations about the US government’s spying programme have revealed, it’s a lot easier – and perhaps more common – for the government and corporations to monitor our behaviour. This applies when we’re surfing the web or navigating the world’s transport systems.

Oyster isn’t the only system where your movements can be tracked. Most cities use similar technology which can be convenient, but also has its pitfalls. So if you’re concerned about your movements being tracked, pay with cash and don’t use any kind of travel pass (besides your passport) which can be traced back to you.


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