Transparency Overview for Disclosures of Compass Data to Law Enforcement
TransLink is committed both to protecting our customers' personal information in accordance with British Columbia's Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPPA) and to being transparent about how we handle law enforcement requests for Compass data. To foster this transparency, TransLink will publish information annually about the number of disclosures made pursuant to a request from law enforcement.
Law enforcement sends us a formal request for disclosure of Compass data or submits a court order requiring release of Compass data.
We review the request or court order to ensure that it is lawful and meets both FOIPPA’s criteria and TransLink’s internal standards for disclosure.
Once we determine that a request is valid, we gather the responsive information and respond to the requestor.
Information TransLink Collects
Tap data: For all Compass Fare Media, as defined in the Transit Tariff, whether registered or not, transaction data is tied to the unique Compass serial number for a rolling period, up to 24 months. After that, the transaction data is disassociated from the Compass Fare Media. This data includes the times, dates, and locations of all card reader taps, and the fares charged. A Compass user’s “travel history” may be inferred by analyzing the tap data.
Registered Cardholder Information: If a Compass Cardholder has registered a Compass Card, we also have a record of the name and contact information provided during registration.
Payment Information: When purchasing Compass Fare Media or adding fare product to a Compass Card, the Compass system will collect the location, the amount, and the date and time of the transaction. When purchasing Compass Fare Media or adding fare product to a Compass Card with a credit or debit card, we will transmit the payment details, including payment card number, expiry date, and, if paying online, the cardholder’s name and billing address to our payment processor.
Types of Disclosure Requests
Disclosures in Response to a Formal Request
FOIPPA gives TransLink the discretion, in certain circumstances, to share personal information in response to a lawful request from law enforcement. Generally, absent a court order, TransLink will choose to disclose Compass data to law enforcement only in emergency circumstances. These are urgent situations that require immediate action because there is a potential for harm to an individual or the public which could be avoided or minimized by disclosure of the information being sought, e.g., an Amber Alert or suicidal missing person.
Requestors are required to submit their request to TransLink via a formal request form, and must identify the police file number, the requesting agency, the specific information being sought, and the nature of the investigation, including confirmation that there are emergency circumstances.
We review these requests on a case-by-case basis before proceeding. We will narrow the scope of requests or reject requests when appropriate. We respond to the requestor only with the information needed to respond to the situation, e.g., a missing person’s last known card reader tap.
Disclosures in Response to a Court Order
In non-emergency circumstances, TransLink will generally require law enforcement to seek a court order to compel release of Compass data. A court order is a binding legal demand for information issued by a judge or judicial officer, e.g., a warrant or production order. Upon receipt of a valid court order, TransLink is legally obligated to provide the requested information.
In 2021, requests for Compass data were received from Metro Vancouver Transit Police, RCMP (Burnaby, Richmond, North Vancouver, Coquitlam, Ridge Meadows, Surrey, YVR, University), Vancouver Police Department, New Westminster Police Department, and Delta Police Department.