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.

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

Sheltering in place not an option for many Tenderloin residents

‘There is nobody out except people that can’t go in’

Chinatown SRO tenants fear close quarters will spread coronavirus

Shared kitchens, bathrooms make it difficult to avoid contagion

SF speeds up testing for first responders as Sheriff’s Department is hit by coronavirus

Miyamoto rolls out daily temperature checks at jails, hospitals and courthouses

‘Outbreak’ expected at Laguna Honda Hospital after seven test positive for virus

The day after the first patient at Laguna Honda Hospital tested positive… Continue reading

Gov. Newsom orders statewide ban on evictions for renters affected by coronavirus

The measure prevents the evictions of renters over the nonpayment of rent through May 31

Most Read