Supervisor John Avalos hopes to increase privacy controls on Clipper Cards

S.F. Examiner File PhotoSupervisor John Avalos is calling for more privacy for customers who use the Clipper Card.

S.F. Examiner File PhotoSupervisor John Avalos is calling for more privacy for customers who use the Clipper Card.

A San Francisco supervisor is calling for stricter privacy controls for transit riders using Clipper cards to pay their fares on BART, Muni and other Bay Area public transportation systems.

Amid media reports of law enforcement subpoenaing Clipper card data to make an arrest and high-tech mobile applications that can read a card’s travel history, Supervisor John Avalos introduced a resolution Tuesday calling for stricter privacy protections.

“I think it’s important that we actually can make sure that people who are using Clipper cards can actually be protected against any use of information about where they go and what their whereabouts are,” Avalos said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which oversees the Clipper card program, estimates there are about 1 million in use.

Avalos’ resolution urges the MTC to decrease the amount of time a rider’s personal information is retained, which currently is indefinitely or up to seven years after an account is closed; put “stricter limits on the sharing of personally identifiable information with third parties and participating transit agencies,” and enable encrypting data on the cards or allowing riders to the purge the information.

MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler declined to comment on the resolution specifically, but said the agency was sensitive to privacy concerns when launching the cards. He explained that under state law the MTC is required to provide travel information when it’s subpoenaed, which has occurred three times since 2010.

Rentschler said there is no personal information on the cards, but they do retain the history of a rider’s past 10 trips. The data may include someone’s date of birth if he or she applied for a senior discount. He noted that people don’t have to register their cards, which is done to add value to them using a credit card, and instead can remain unknown to the agency.

“You’re anonymous on Day One, unless you change it,” Rentschler said.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

BARTBay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPoliticsSan Francisco

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco police investigated the scene of a police shooting near Varney Place and Third Street on May 7. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFPD shooting may prompt new body camera rules for plainclothes cops

Police chief says incident ‘should not have happened’

Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference about a $12 billion package bolstering the state’s response to the homelessness crisis at the Kearney Vista Apartments on May 11, 2021 in San Diego, California. (K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
Newsom promises sweeping change in California’s $267-billion budget

John Myers Los Angeles Times California would embark on the most ambitious… Continue reading

Despite the pandemic, San Francisco has ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Better than expected tax revenues leave city with $157.3M surplus for this year

As the fiscal year nears an end and Mayor London Breed prepares… Continue reading

Passengers board a BART train bound for the San Francisco Airport at Powell Street station. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
BART bumps up service restoration to August 30, offers fare discounts

Rail agency breaks pandemic ridership records, prepares to welcome more passengers

Ashley and Michelle Monterrosa hold a photo of their brother Sean Monterrosa, who was killed by a Vallejo police officer early Tuesday morning, as they are comforted at a memorial rally at the 24th Street Mission BART plaza on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
State Department of Justice to investigate Sean Monterrosa shooting by Vallejo police

Attorney General Rob Bonta steps in after Solano County DA declines case

Most Read