back to article NSW government drops a Catch: Bus Wi-Fi is a privacy nightmare

Privacy activists and the NSW Greens in Australia have come out against the NSW State Government's umpteenth Wi-Fi-on-buses trial. The reason: instead of trying to offer the Wi-Fi itself, as has happened in past attempted-but-abandoned rollouts, the Baird government is letting a company called Catch run the hotspots. Catch is …

  1. Sampler

    That's a lot to ask

    name, address, phone number, employer, drivers' license number and date of birth

    I mean, most hotspots are happy for a name and email address, that can easily be bogus, but who's going to put all that in just to get on free bus wifi, by the time you're done you'll be off the other end!

    Also, drivers licence? Erm, why do you think I'm a #buswanker?

    1. CheeseTriangles

      Re: That's a lot to ask

      The sad thing is that many people will submit all that personal information without any thoughts regarding the invasion of their privacy - it's FREE wifi after all.

      1. Sampler

        Re: That's a lot to ask

        most people probably won't sign up for it at any rate - I can't think of a single public wifi I've connected to in Sydney that's actually worked once I've connected (and those are in the small minority, Events on George St connects but won't issue an IP, Starbucks next door issues an IP but won't redirect you to the login page and won't progress to the internet outside until you've been through it in a kafka style loop and the list goes on..).

        So with that experience to base on using the public wifi, add a massive list of information to pump in and you'll get no one being arsed

  2. Oh Homer

    Is that even legal?

    Don't know about Down Under, but I'm fairly sure that retaining credit card information for purposes other than an authorised financial transaction is illegal, at least in the EU, and if it isn't then it probably should be.

    1. Trixr

      Re: Is that even legal?

      Privacy law downunder, compared to what EU regulation was even in the early 2000s (when I was living in the UK), is complete and utter shite.

      My first IT jobs were in the UK, and I was trained on privacy stuff accordingly. Doing IT work in Oz and NZ still continues to gobsmack me with the breathtaking liberties organisations can take.

  3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    "I think you may have been misled."

    "The privacy policy proposes such data may be collected, not will be collected."

    What's the fucking difference? If you can you will.

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      Re: "I think you may have been misled."

      If you can you will. If not today then in the future when we are so used to giving you our details.

      If you aren't going to collect it, why ask for permission today?

  4. frank ly

    “It is also a trial so we have a long way to go.”

    Does this mean they'll be collecting even more information in the future?

  5. Mark Simon

    Let’s try something similar:

    Would something like this be acceptable:

    The policy proposes we may drive a bulldozer through your house, not will drive one through.

    It is also a trial so don’t worry about it. Just relax and enjoy being taken for a ride.

    I think NSW commuters have definitely been misled.

    1. Magani

      Re: Let’s try something similar:

      The policy proposes we may drive a bulldozer through your house, not will drive one through.

      Arthur Dent thought he'd had that clause explained to him too, and look what happened to him.

  6. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    What about posting bogus details (drivers licence and other requested information) then? Or fill in all the fields with a rude and offensive story?

  7. Zero Sum

    Free country?

    Why is it that internet providers of free democratic Australia take all of your information and make the whole connectivity on the public transport a privacy sucking nightmare, while connecting to the free WiFi on the metro of Moscow City is quick and easy and asks for no personal information (the last time I tried)? It is extremely user friendly and fast.

    I wonder I the majority of Australians understand just how incompetently their (our) country is run. (Please don't let me get started on mandatory data retention. At least the Russkies will keep that in-house for the intelligence services, while the Aussies seem to be planning to open it all up to lawyers and business. How can this be happening?)

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: Free country?

      Don't worry. I am sure the NSW police will have warrantless access to this data - the old essential for fighting crime excuse like opal. So the police will be well placed to stop any bad guys, or at least to identify the victims. Per your Moscow story - recent trip to NZ was an eye opener as well. Walk into a shop with a bag and not be treated like a criminal. Buy a local sim without 100 points of Id. Go to the library and logon to the WiFi, no id or email addresses required. Though they still have mandatory plastic hat laws for cyclists :-(. Looking at the people at SYD airport happily skipping through the worthless but mandatory full body scanners I do not think many Australians' understand how incompetently the country is run. I think they rather enjoy all the demands for compliance. Like a good crossword puzzle, I can do it I must be smart.

  8. Captain TickTock

    You can connect anonymously..

    ...but there's a Catch...

    (mine's the one with a fake Wifi hotspot in the pocket)

  9. paapicholoo

    Thats why it is always recommended to use a VPN in public WiFi hotspot

  10. Denarius Silver badge

    You missed the trojan

    <conspiracy hat> If advertising companies can ask for this data, perhaps whatever passes for the AusGov single Digital ID PHB cabal will be seeing how much they can get away with using compulsion if the punters hand over so much information voluntarily </conspiracy hat> Only flaw in this hypothesis is the assumption that the political classes are cunning enough to try it as it does not involve brown bags under table.

    Branflakes is most likely to use the use mere managerial prerogative or captains picks as they are now called to mandate something like this for the new improved Australia Card. :-J Perhaps the Norks have a secret consultancy program for advising the remnants of western governments on how to become a police state.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public wifi

    I don't think so.

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