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Privacy Concerns Raised Over Clipper Card Passenger Tracking

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A passenger uses a Clipper card at a fare gate. (CBS)

A passenger uses a Clipper card at a fare gate. (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – Clipper Card holders may be unaware that the Metropolitan Transportation Commission stores information on their public transit movements for years, potentially allowing authorities track your previous locations.

There are a million such fare cards used all over the Bay Area at several transit agencies. If you register with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission when you buy it, police can subpoena your records to show where you have and have not been if suspected of a crime.

John Goodwin of the MTC said there have been subpoenas, but only 2 to since the program began in 2010. There was one search warrant, compared to three quarters of a million uses a day.

“It is an infinitesimal tiny percentage of all the transactions,” said Goodwin.

Still, some civil libertarians say the MTC should not store the information as they do currently for 7 years. If you pay cash for the card, there is no personal record.

And then there’s this thing called FareBot, which allows you to swipe your Clipper Card to see where you’ve been and how much money you have left. It’s an app for your smart phone or tablet.

There is some concern that other people could find out where you’ve been just by swiping the app near the card, even if it’s in your back pocket. We tried it several times and it never worked.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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