Hacked off

The news that German hackers have succeeded in breaking into the supposedly secure public transport smart card has led, quite rightly, to questions in parliament.

It is not yet clear how much damage, if any, has been done – but in hackers’ circles, the champagne has been apparently flowing.
This is not the first time the megalomaniac smart card project has run into trouble and once again junior transport minister Tineke Huizinga has now got some explaining to do.
Has the security of the chip which operates the smart card really been damaged and is there a real risk that passenger information could end up in the public domain? And if that is the case, does anyone apart from the privacy zealots see it as a problem?
The Dutch are not particularly bothered about privacy issues – after all, it must be one of the few countries in the world – if not the only one – where 14-year-olds can be fined for not carrying ID.
You can, of course, get an anonymous public transport card without your photograph if you want to keep your details secret. But as the card organisation’s website helpfully points out, if you do, you will not be eligible for any discounts or cheap tickets. And if you lose your anonymous card, you have lost all your money as well.
What it comes down to is a question of cheap tickets versus privacy. And in this cost-conscious country, there’s no contest really.

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