ttc carding

TTC accused of profiling with passenger information cards

Civil rights and privacy experts are eyeing the TTC closely this week in the wake of a Toronto Star investigation that revealed some questionable internal practices involving passenger data.

In an explosive report on Monday morning, the Star announced that it had obtained evidence of more than 40,000 cards containing sensitive information about riders who had not been charged with an offence.

The cards were, and still are, filled out by fare inspectors and enforcement officers who believe that someone has commited an offence but does not deserve a ticket.

Instead of being penalized financially, passengers in this situation are simply required to hand over such personal information as their name, address, birth date, aliases, license number, race and other physical features.

That information is then plugged into a database where it remains for 20 years—a database which The Star says "transit officers access daily but which most transit users aren't even aware exists."

The newspaper found through a freedom of information request that TTC officers had filled out more than 40,000 such forms between 2008 and the end of 2018.

Those filed prior to 2015 are identical in format to the forms scrapped by Toronto Police back in 2013 over accountability issues. 

While some in the city say filling out these forms sounds an awful lot like the controversial (and recently restricted) practice of police carding, TTC officials say that it's merely an investigative tool used to identify repeat offenders.

"The TTC has never conducted, nor does it conduct, random stops and checks of anyone," said TTC spokesperson Stuart Green in response to the Star's reports.

True as this may be, some learning of the database today are uncomfortable with the idea of a public transit agency storing such information, even about those accused of breaking rules.

"Growing up with the TTC most of my life, it felt expected that it was a similarly systematicly racist organization to the police, with much less disciplinary power," wrote one Toronto resident on Twitter in response to the Star report.

"Twenty-first racism at work in Toronto," wrote another. "Past time to end this systemic racism on the TTC and elsewhere."

You can read more about the controversy and the city's reaction to it here.

Lead photo by

Mathan Shan


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