Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster defended the policy Thursday, suggesting that requiring a warrant could delay an investigation and put the public at risk because “very often, time is of the essence.”
“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.
He noted that the agency had submitted the policy for review by the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner (IPC), which he argued would ensure that “it conforms with best practice.”
As part of the policy, Metrolinx will require officers to get their supervisor’s sign-off for all requests, and each case will be reviewed by the agency’s privacy office or legal counsel before information is released.
Customers whose information has been shared for an emergency or in relation to a concern about their own safety will be notified of the disclosure. In all other cases, Metrolinx will only tell the customer if authorized to do so by law enforcement.
The agency has also committed to publishing an annual report that will state how many requests for Presto data Metrolinx received, and how the agency responded. The report will be posted online, and will identify law enforcement agencies that made requests.
Officers eligible to request Presto data are police, transit safety officers, and special constables.
The Presto fare card system is used by 11 transit agencies across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, and Ottawa. There are currently 2.1 million cards registered.
As of January, law enforcement agencies have asked for Presto data 56 times, according to Metrolinx. Twenty requests were for missing persons cases, and 32 were related to alleged criminal offences. The remaining four were for cases such as wallets that were found with no other ID.
Of the 32 requests for information related to criminal offences, Metrolinx granted 10 in full without a court order. In eight instances, some information was provided without a warrant, but only parts of the request were granted. In 12 cases no information was provided, and two were granted after officers produced a court order.
A Metrolinx spokesperson said the statistics are still considered preliminary. The agency will publish its first official annual report on law enforcement requests in February.
The new policy will go into effect in January, subject to the recommendations of the IPC.
Source : https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/transportation/2017/12/07/metrolinx-enhances-privacy-policy-for-presto-fare-card.html