Oyster (for Londoners..)

tryptych

waiting for a time
(For those of you who don't know, Oyster is a card based system on the London transport network, where you charge up your card with pre-pay or season ticket and its deducted automatically as you travel)


The Oyster system has only really impacted on my life recently, since I've only just started spending more time in London again after a couple of years away.

What do people think of it? Useful time-and-money saving technology, or worrying extension of monitoring and control?

Here's my views:

Pros:

1) Saves money - granted, its only 20p or something on an underground single.
2)Less hassle - so long as you charge up your card, you never have to worry about getting a ticket, and solves the common problem of "do i buy a travel card or a single" when you're not sure what the rest of the day/night holds in store for you. Now you just merrily go through the barriers, safe in the knowledge that the cheapest ticket(s) will be deducted from your card (although see cons below...)

Cons:
1) Who's watching? - as I understand it, your oyster card keeps a record of every journey you make. Who has access to this information? What might it be used for?

2) Alleged "price capping" - Oyster is supposed never to charge you more than the cost of a travelcard for the zones you travel in. I'm not to happy about trusting this to the system, however. Often when I come to charge up my Oyster I think that I might have been over charged on my last journey - but since it's never more than a quid, I usually don't think to much about it. It's just this insidious kind of error that troubles me.

On the other end, my girlfriend recently went to charge up her Oyster at a window in a tube station, and when she did, she was told that she had been undercharged on her last journey, and would have to pay an extra 40p. Doesn't seem like a lot, but what the fuck? Isn't the whole point that it should work out the correct fares itself? She couldnt really dispute the charge - without keeping a detalied record of your journeys, who could, and even if she had I imagine she would've been told that the infallible computer system was in the right, and she was in the wrong.

3) Regimented timings etc - one day travelcards are valid up til 4.30am the next morning on the night bus. It used to be the case that you could jump on the night bus usually quite a bit after 4.30, wave your travelcard and get on no trouble. Now, after 4.30 precisely, you get charged another £1 or whatever it is. One unfortunate extra from having a machine in charge of the ticketing rather than the driver.


Basically, I'm somewhat suspicious of the whole system, as I think one should be when asked to place one's trust in a computer controlled network such as this. Am I too paranoid?
 

Ness Rowlah

Norwegian Wood
spackb0y said:
Cons:
1) Who's watching? - as I understand it, your oyster card keeps a record of every journey you make. Who has access to this information? What might it be used for?
...
Am I too paranoid?
No. Orwell knew his stuff. If BigBrother is to happen it will be here.
Consider the evidence

- Oyster cards
- automatic number registration on cars (but I guess all cars will be fitted with tracking devices for "a fairer road tax" within 20 years)
- ID cards/passports - will be fitted with RFIDs which can track all your movements all the time. Said to be a voluntary scheme. Another terrorist attack with 10+ people killed and ID cards with RFIDs (small tracking chips) will be enforced to "protect us all" (never mind that 4000 people get killed in traffic every year)
- Baby-ASBOs - ie get the "criminals" before they are criminals, profile and victimise them before they even start school
- "literacy" and "social skills" testing in kindergarten
- all children to be given ID-numbers (since you cannot currently force ID-cards to non-adults. One more tragedy like the Bulger-killing and ID cards with RFIDs will be forced on kids as well)
- the laws on "correct thinking" seeping through - ie no demonstrations near parliament, no making jokes about religion or causing offence to anyone
- the highest density of CCTV anywhere on the planet
- the general state of "sleepwalking" of the British public ("I've got nothing to hide")
- the tabloids
- 20060104: bins are microchipped in South Norfolk "to identify residents who are not recycling"
- 20060104: divorced dads not paying up to be electronically tagged
- 20060105: Police DNA database holds 37% of black men (Guardian)
- 20060105: new satelittes to roam over Britain with 1m resolution
- 20060105: suggestion to tag motorcycles going into London ("tag and beacon", Evening Standard)
- 20060108: Shoreditch "ASBO-TV" (ie spy on your neighbour or partner), watch the CCTV on your TV
- 20060109 but it takes 18 months to get to know who Tony dines with
- 20060109: DNA of 750 000 juveniles stored, DNA database to hold 4.2 mil people
- 20060115: a quarter of the worlds CCTV is in the uk
- 20060120: MPs to be phone tapped (Indie)
- 20060121: Police to file all offences for 100 years.

-20060122: No police state yet, but we are heading there. Henry Porter in The Guardian summarizing some of all this quite neatly

- ID cards now defeated in The Lords, but
- 20060124: Tony want's to bypass the courts and and foreign lawyers worried
-20060124: heading towards Minority Report (David Rowan). Hacks should be worried as well - what will happen to protection of sources in the Brave New World?
- 20060124: "100 new speed cameras on the streets" (470 total in London) according to the Evening Standard
- 20060124: "Domestic passengers could be put under surveillance". Flight and ferry passengers that is, all of them. Evening Standard again.



This is just from the top of my head - the list is longer.

One small observation: Grayson Perry wrote a piece in The Times a while ago on
the lack of new orginals and people dressing in an outrageous way -
where have they all gone?
If Tony and the boys have his ways the great British Eccentric will be gone (or locked
up - as a free-thinker or because she was profiled as a "95% chance of being a criminal" as a kid) by the end of the 21st Century.

If you don't trust the government and if it does not make too much difference -
get a Zone 1-6 travelcard (paper) and buy it from one of the
train stations outside London (but within the Zones) and pay in cash.

It's easy to predict looking at current affairs that you cannot be "too paranoid" -
what's impressive is that Orwell, Huxley , Block etc did see this so clearly 40-60 years ago.

The irony is of course that Britain and the US are pushing for "freedom" around
the world while building up regimes (by technology and stealth, not by people
keeping a watch on their closest) soon worthy of North Korea and East Germany
to keep a close watch on its own citizens.
 
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3underscore

Well-known member
spackb0y said:
On the other end, my girlfriend recently went to charge up her Oyster at a window in a tube station, and when she did, she was told that she had been undercharged on her last journey, and would have to pay an extra 40p. Doesn't seem like a lot, but what the fuck? Isn't the whole point that it should work out the correct fares itself? She couldnt really dispute the charge - without keeping a detalied record of your journeys, who could, and even if she had I imagine she would've been told that the infallible computer system was in the right, and she was in the wrong.
What happens is that it allows you a journey if you have some credit (say £1), though the fare may be £1.80. As a result, your oyster is 80p in debt. It won't let you travel until you sort this out (even if you have a zone 1+2 travelcard and are in zone 1 or 2), which can suck a little. Especially in rush hour.

My annoyance is that you can't use prepay at mainline only stations (like where I live). That was a pain till I moved here, as I ran a combination of paper tix and an oyster when looking.
 

Rambler

Awanturnik
3underscore said:
My annoyance is that you can't use prepay at mainline only stations (like where I live). That was a pain till I moved here, as I ran a combination of paper tix and an oyster when looking.
I hate that - every time I travel to SE London I have to remember to buy a paper Travelcard first or get screwed by Connex.

I've not yet had a problem with being overcharged for pre-pay - I don't keep that close accounts, but it always seems to come out as I'd expect it too. And on the several occasions when I've forgotten to beep in or out of a station, and got that 'unfinished journey detected, please see a member of staff' message they've just cancelled the journey rather than add anything on, so it's actually saved me a bit of money there.

Oh, and if you're worried about BB following your tube journeys, just buy a pre-pay Oyster and don't register. They can still follow your card around, but they've got no way of knowing it's you using it.
 
its a worrying extension of monitoring and control imo...

nothing really more to say. I like to call it the Devil's Pearls lol.

It's funny cos didn't Bob Crow (ex-head of TFL I think) used to work for the CIA?
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Tactics said:
It's funny cos didn't Bob Crow (ex-head of TFL I think) used to work for the CIA?
Bob Crow is the (ex?) General Secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers.

So, no. Unless you know otherwise?
 

3underscore

Well-known member
Bob Kiley's interests have been more surrounding the unviability of Public Private Partnerships for Rail and the Underground (mostly), based on his history of working on similar across the world.

Any theory of his being involved in Oyster (and even better the CIA touches you can embelish) I would guess is tin-foil hat territory.
 
thanks matt b for the clear up...I guess thats

what question marks are for....

3underscore said:
Bob Kiley's interests have been more surrounding the unviability of Public Private Partnerships for Rail and the Underground (mostly), based on his history of working on similar across the world.

Any theory of his being involved in Oyster (and even better the CIA touches you can embelish) I would guess is tin-foil hat territory.
tin-foil hat territory? if this is sarcasm I don't get it lol. I jus remembered someone involved within TFL worked for or with the CIA.

I jus remembered...anyone who wants a paper monthly or seasonal travelcard can still go to overhead stations and get one.

John I jus remembered it so decided to throw it out there, nothing else. I even got the person wrong!

Can someone explain the tin foil hat thing though?
 
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bassnation

the abyss
3underscore said:
Any theory of his being involved in Oyster (and even better the CIA touches you can embelish) I would guess is tin-foil hat territory.
from the TFL site:
"Bob Kiley was appointed Commissioner in 2001, having previously served as chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York. Prior to this, he was chairman and CEO of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston, where he also served as the city's deputy mayor. He began his career at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and worked as executive assistant to its director. "

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/chief_officers.asp
 

3underscore

Well-known member
Tactics said:
tin-foil hat territory? if this is sarcasm I don't get it lol. I jus remembered someone involved within TFL worked for or with the CIA.
In a chat about Oyster, someone raises it can track your journey. Someone else points out someone for TFL is ex-CIA. The whole suggestion is that there is something wholly unsavoury devised out of the scheme, which I would be confident there is not.

I don't mind the odd conspiracy theory, but the way some are cobbled together through the internet is annoying. The whole spurious link thing is exactly that.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Tactics said:
tin-foil hat territory? if this is sarcasm I don't get it lol. I jus remembered someone involved within TFL worked for or with the CIA.
Why do you think this is relevant to a discussion about Oyster cards, Tactics?
 

3underscore

Well-known member
bassnation said:
from the TFL site:
"Bob Kiley was appointed Commissioner in 2001, having previously served as chairman and CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York. Prior to this, he was chairman and CEO of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority in Boston, where he also served as the city's deputy mayor. He began his career at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and worked as executive assistant to its director. "
I am not desputing he worked there. I am disputing that it means anything.

He worked as a PA. He probably never was involved in Oyster, and probably knows very little about the CIA. It is just stupid conjecture to try and make anything out of this. Jeez - look at anyone's CV and you could probably make a spurious story of conspiracy out of it.

What am I saying? He worked at the CIA for his first job in his career. Therefore, he is obviously a plant in the TFL by them so he could devise a system to track YOUR movements around London. In fact, see that car across the road? hasn't that been there a few days? That's Bob Kiley's people WATCHING YOU.
 
lol

3underscore said:
I am not desputing he worked there. I am disputing that it means anything.

He worked as a PA. He probably never was involved in Oyster, and probably knows very little about the CIA. It is just stupid conjecture to try and make anything out of this. Jeez - look at anyone's CV and you could probably make a spurious story of conspiracy out of it.

What am I saying? He worked at the CIA for his first job in his career. Therefore, he is obviously a plant in the TFL by them so he could devise a system to track YOUR movements around London. In fact, see that car across the road? hasn't that been there a few days? That's Bob Kiley's people WATCHING YOU.
this guys cracking me up by getting irate and that. I feel kinda bad for mentioning it now. "I was only saying!" (c) my lil' sister.
 

bassnation

the abyss
3underscore said:
I am not desputing he worked there. I am disputing that it means anything.

He worked as a PA. He probably never was involved in Oyster, and probably knows very little about the CIA. It is just stupid conjecture to try and make anything out of this. Jeez - look at anyone's CV and you could probably make a spurious story of conspiracy out of it.

What am I saying? He worked at the CIA for his first job in his career. Therefore, he is obviously a plant in the TFL by them so he could devise a system to track YOUR movements around London. In fact, see that car across the road? hasn't that been there a few days? That's Bob Kiley's people WATCHING YOU.
lol

luckily i don't use an oyster - so i'm safe - for now ;)
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Tactics said:
this guys cracking me up by getting irate and that. I feel kinda bad for mentioning it now. "I was only saying!" (c) my lil' sister.
Apparently Bob Kiley likes scrambled egg on toast for breakfast as well. Spooky or what?

On the whole surveillance thing, people have missed the fucking boat a bit, haven't they? Or did I imagine all that CCTV going up in stations across London? My suspicion is that if people want to find out where you go, then they can - whether you use a private car, oyster card or magic carpet.

What are we all doing that's so subversive it must be shielded from the state anyway? Naff all - going to work, going out drinking, buying records. Whoo.

What's next?

Nectar cards identified as being the mark of the beast which everyone has to trade with as the end times approach as stated in the book of revelations?

Webcams - they are really used by the illuminati to spy on YOU.

Blogger - it's owned by Mossad.
 

Ness Rowlah

Norwegian Wood
My concern is not right here, right now.
Right now all this is probably tinfoil-territory
(and while we are at it: let's add supermarket surveillance
with facial recognition software to track your shopping,
a police chief that interfers with policy, body scanners on the tube).
Are we more secure with all this stuff?

If we are - against whom?

My concern is that Britain step by step, day by day is
putting in a technological infrastructure (and laws) expanding
like nowhere else on the planet - with close to no opposition.
This infrastructure might not be used for 10 years, for 20 or
even for 50 years. It might never be used.

But given the right political and social circumstances this kit
can be used to monitor and hold down a whole population.

Or a religious or other "potentially dangerous" group.

If you combine ID cards with RFIDs (200 meter range)
and place discrete RFID readers near mosques (or say at The Den)
would you say that it is right?
That it is tinfoil stuff and will never happen?

Tinfoil or no tinfoil - Britain is heading towards the full time surveillance
society and I don't think it's a good thing.
 
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Rambler

Awanturnik
I agree Ness - I've just taken a domestic flight from London to Newcastle and back, for which I was required to have my photo taken 'for security purposes', stored on computer and given a unique identifier corresponding to my flight number, passport (yes, for a domestic flight), etc. Current British law is that this information must be destroyed after 24 hours - and I don't doubt that it will be - but there will be a future home secretary licking his lips at acquiring that sort of information. And it won't take a huge change in the law to make that data longer-lasting (or even permanent).

This is the scary thing about the increased surveillance/data gathering state of the UK: our current masters may well be nice and benign, but the physical and legal infrastructure is now there for a future potential tyrant to exploit, and it will be too late then.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
There is no doubt that data collection is on the up, and there is no doubt that this will be used by the state to spy on people.

I agree that this is Not A Good Thing. I support people who are involved with monitoring or campaigning against this stuff, like Defy ID and Liberty.

However, I can think of several things which are higher up my list of priorities to fight against right now - and that's as well as having a job/family/social life etc. Unless one is purely interested in discussing or reading about these things, choices have to be made.

The gradual decent into an orwellian dystopia has been mooted ever since I got involved with sub-cultural/radical/"alternative" politics in the mid-80s.
 
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