EU Supercomputer to Spy On All Public Transport – At Your Expense

CCTV camera is positioned in front of a giant poster of a cat on April 30, 2014 in London, England. Privacy campaigners have stated that Town halls in the UK have been using fixed and mobile CCTV cameras to impose parking and traffic fines on members of the public with …
Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A new EU initiative will see data from all journeys made by public transport tracked and stored in an EU supercomputer by 2020.

This will not only require the installation of expensive tracking equipment, it would also require a vast network of computers and operators to be able to manage all of the data.

This raises many questions such as: Where would the supercomputer be located? What if there is a computer glitch – will everything grind to a halt? What about privacy considerations with the EU tracking our movements across the Continent.

The row comes just months after concerns were raised by privacy groups about another recent EU diktat, which called for all car manufacturers to install sensors which would guide emergency services to a vehicle in the event of a crash.

The ‘eCall’ system equipment will be installed in all new vehicles manufactured from 2018 adding at least £100 to the cost of a new car.  While this may seem an innocently good idea, it seems like another opportunity for ‘Big Brother’ to spy on the Great British Public at the diktat of the EU.

A study by the University of Kansas in 2003, which looked into the cost benefit analysis of Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL), concluded: “costs vary from implementation to implementation and benefits are largely anecdotal.”

They estimated implementation costs across a fleet of 500 buses at over £5 million. Each in vehicle unit was estimated to cost around £2,269 in 2003. We can only estimate the projected costs now – and over the next few years!

The EU report entitled “Delivering multimodal integrated ticketing in Europe” wants to make travelling across different modes of public transport across multiple countries simpler by having a unified ticketing system. The report also calls for intelligent systems which relay real-time information about public transport vehicles to be installed on all forms of public transport by 2020, “at the latest”.

When this was discussed in the European Commission in Strasbourg this week, UKIP MEP, Jill Seymour, blasted the proposals, saying: “The people of the United Kingdom do not want any more of their information stored in an EU Superstatecomputer”.

Seymour also told the Commission: “The people of the United Kingdom do not want to have to change something that is not broken. Our ticketing system on public transport is fine as it is. If we want to change it, it’s up to our own country, not that of the EU”

Another study by the Central European University’s Centre for Media, Data and Society (CMDS) has calculated that between 2004 and 2014 the Continent’s organisations suffered 229 known incidents of data being breached, covering a staggering 227 million personal records.

More than half of these data breaches were caused by the actions of insiders as opposed to hackers. These are just the instances we know about! It would be incredibly injudicious of the government to allow our personal information to be stored in an EU supercomputer system like this.

Dieter-Lebrecht Koch MEP, the rapporteur responsible for the proposal has said he “strongly believes that integrated ticketing should not equal higher prices for the consumer.”

This may sound like a good idea, but in reality, the costs of implementing, maintaining and staffing such a system would have to be subsidised by taxpayers. We have to remember, taxpayers already subsidise UK buses to the tune of £2.2 billion a year which accounts for 45 per cent of operator revenues.

In addition, just how many people across all the population of EU Member States will be advantaged by such a ridiculous idea?

It is unacceptable for the EU to expect taxpayers to foot the bill for yet another one of their pet projects. It is ridiculous for Mr Koch to insist the additional cost of this hardware as well as administration costs should be borne by consumers. It yet again shows the EU’s disregard for British taxpayer’s and only strengthens our case to Get Britain Out

Jordan Ryan is a researcher for the cross-party Eurosceptic campaign group Get Britain Out


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