Greens says free Wi-Fi on Sydney buses puts commuter privacy at risk

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A commuter bus drives across Anzac bridge during peak afternoon traffic in Sydney August 23, 2004.
A commuter bus drives across Anzac bridge during peak afternoon traffic in Sydney August 23, 2004. Reuters/Tim Wimborne

The New South Wales Greens expresses concern regarding free Wi-Fi rollout on Sydney buses. The party is apprehensive that it may put commuter privacy at risk.

Greens Transport Spokeswoman Dr Mehreen Faruqi is firm that the Government should ensure that the passengers are aware about what the true cost of the "free" service is. "As usual with this government, every promise comes with a catch -- and this time it's sacrificing the privacy of passengers,” he said.

According to the ABC, the Greens accused the Government of not revealing a catch in the agreement, which it says allows the company to get hold of the private information of commuters. Information that can be harvested by advertising company may include "drivers' details and credit cards."

"The Transport Minister [Andrew Constance] is out there boasting this as a win for the public, but the catch is buried in the fine print," Faruqi said.

Those who sign up for the service may put their privacy at risk. The Greens maintain that the Government should find safer ways of providing services, instead of misleading the commuters.

"The NSW Government needs to find safer, more responsible ways of providing better services and getting up to date with technology that is on offer,” Faruqi added.

The state government will provide a trial of Wi-Fi on 50 buses across the city. The program may expand to 1000 buses by the end of 2017.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has described the trial of Wi-Fi as a logical move. "Many people rely on being connected to their Smartphone ... so it is pleasing to see these types of trials under way," he said.

To be able to connect to the Wi-Fi, passengers need to download and install a free Smartphone app. Free Wi-Fi is available at Circular Quay and Central railway station and on most Sydney Ferry services.