Falling In Love With Sydney's Opal Card Is Like Dating A Police Informant

Like it or not, you're being tracked by your Opal Card in New South Wales. Every time you tap on and off, that generates metadata on you that can be accessed by authorities sans warrant. In a bid to friendly-up the system, the New South Wales government produced the weirdest ad ever to distract folks. Luckily, our friends at The Feed aren't falling for it.

That's right: the authorities don't need a warrant to access your Opal travel data, and the cops love to access it too. As The Feed points out with its giant Opal Man, Queensland police accessed travel records from their equivalent travel card over 10,066 times. Hooooooo boy.

Below is the original ad for your headdesking amusement.


    One thing that is good about MyKi is that you dont have to register to own one.

      This is true. However, if you always use the same card then with a bit of effort police would still be able to use the data because most stations have security cameras pointing at those card readers. If they are able to identify you on a video, they can potentially match your Myki touch, and then use that data. If they are really eager, they could use two video footage-touch matches, just to be absolutely sure they have the right card.

      That is still much, much harder than if you've registered, of course.

      Edit: I should probably mention here that it would be much easier for the police to simply get a warrant for your phone location over time from your phone provider, Google's location data if you're using Google Now, Facebook, Shazam, or any of the other numerous services which collect your location. Hell, the advertising toolkit Flurry collects location on a regular basis.

      Last edited 02/09/14 12:18 pm

    Don't have to register an Opal card either. Buy one at an Opal retailer or a pop-up kiosk at a train station.

    I started using opel, it's great, but the technology is really behind from any comparable country's. It takes on average 3-5 seconds to recognise the card as I scan through, which compare to london, HK or SG, they are all basically instant...

    The Opal pack said the more people use it, the faster it gets, but i got the feeling, the more ppl use it the slower it goes! If you go to Townhall in peak hour, there use to be almost no queue pre-opal time, and now there's always a queue to get in and out. and to make it worst, the system is tempormental, so u can never really be sure that it scanned properly without having a good thought, which is another second standing there.

    In the end, I got a yearly ticket on 31 Aug, get my last ever yearly, save like 200 compare to using opal taking into account offpeak/free rides and stuff by my riding pattern...

    Opal's good, but have soooo much room to get better.

      The reason it takes so long is because it sends information from your card to the back office and back again. The Oyster card only goes to the reader and back, does less checks, hence why it's almost instant. Myki is the same as Opal and I doubt it will speed up anytime soon.

        The technology is the same as Oyster where the source of truth is the card, not server/client . The speed of the swipe recognition is a software choice, not due to a server request.

      Brisbane's 'Go Card' is pretty decent this way. Barely takes one second to register, doesn't even have to make physical contact, can be read from a nearby wave. This allows you to keep the card in lanyards or wallets.

      Down-side is that transactions seem to be collated and sent back to base overnight or longer, so if you've had an error with a card-reader and need to make a dispute or correction you won't be able to call up and get it done until a day or two later.

      Also, it's possibly due to the increased quality that it's the most expensive public transport in the world.

    Must say, its good to see WA ahead of the game for once. I love my transperth smartrider. works a treat!

      I agree. However, I do think the gates can be a little temperamental (I often see them closing on someone and refusing access to anyone for the next 30 seconds) and there could always be more gates/pillars.

    Just saved $400 by buying a yearly. Opal is designed for those that don't work a regular 5 day week. Great for casual use, but a rip-off otherwise. It's light years behind Oyster and they are already planning to move to even smarter card soon, leaving us yet again 20 years behind. Opal was designed to placate the sheep that paid top-dollar, and is only cheaper than normal day returns and breaks even or just slightly cheaper than a weekly. Price needs to drop 25% to make it worthwhile. All the inane comments about how good it is and how it saves time times are just embarrassing. Another failure from a NSW government. Thanks for nothing Gladys.

    In fact it is more expense than the old peper ticket when you don't travel 5 day a week! For example, you only spend $36.8 for BUS 3 Trvavel 10 ticket and you can use it for 10 time no matter when you go, and just cost you $3.68 per trip. But Opal charges you $4.5 per trip if you don't work 5 days a week - It is not designed for those that don't work a regular 5 days week! Only whose travel 5 days a week continuelly will take the benefit.

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