Hop cards info sharing under fire

By Mathew Dearnaley

Auckland Transport stands by policy to share cardholders' private details unless specifically asked not to

The council body is urging users of its new $100 million electronic ticketing system to register their AT Hop cards to safeguard any stored credit if those are lost. Photo / NZPA
The council body is urging users of its new $100 million electronic ticketing system to register their AT Hop cards to safeguard any stored credit if those are lost. Photo / NZPA

Auckland Transport is under fire for claiming a right to pass personal information about Hop card users to third parties unless specifically asked not to.

The council body is urging users of its new $100 million electronic ticketing system to register their AT Hop cards to safeguard any stored credit if those are lost, stolen or blocked because of failure to tag off at the end of trips.

But it is standing by a "privacy" policy requiring bus, rail or ferry users not wanting it to share their personal details with other organisations to ask it in writing not to do so.

That is despite the Office of the Privacy Commissioner's preference for information not to be shared without specific permission from card users.

Bus and ferry user Nikki McCardle is annoyed Auckland Transport will not refund $38 of credit she loaded on a card which was subsequently blocked, saying she received no warning she would lose her money unless she registered it.

Hers is one of 3478 cards to have been disabled, freezing $5520 in unused credit. Another transport user has told the Herald she will not register her card because of the amount of personal information requested by Auckland Transport's website.

"To register the card online, the user is required to provide their full name, address, email address, phone number and date of birth," said the woman, who does want to be named, for privacy reasons. "This seems a significant amount of information to access a public transport system."

She said she was shocked a public agency could be so cavalier with customers' information as to claim a right to pass it to third parties unless they apply in writing for that not to happen.

"I wonder how many users have signed up to this service, unaware that AT knows who they are, where they live, can track their every movement across the public transport network, and will happily sell this information to unknown third parties."

Auckland Transport claims a right to provide personal information to "carefully selected third parties [such as our business partners] so they can offer products and services which we reasonably believe may be of interest to you."

Its policy includes a rider that "we will only do this where those third parties have contracted with Auckland Transport to keep the information confidential, or are subject to obligations to protect your personal information."

But a spokesman for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner said its preference was for information not to be shared between organisations without permission from customers.

"People should consciously choose to opt in," said Charles Mabbett.

He invited the concerned woman to make a complaint to the office "so we could take an active approach on this".

To read Auckland Transport's policy, visit: www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/about-us/pages/privacy.aspx To find out how to complain about a privacy breach, visit: www.privacy. org.nz/your-privacy/how-to-complain

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