Blue Line

Winnipeg police say they’re getting transit card info for investigations

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg defence lawyer and some bus riders are expressing concerns that information from their transit debit cards is being turned over to police without a warrant.

June 9, 2017  By The Canadian Press

The Winnipeg Police Service confirms it has asked for and received information from Peggo, Winnipeg Transit’s debit card program.

It’s happened four times in the last three months with no court order.

One instance was a missing person case, the others are criminal investigations.

Const. Tammy Skrabek says it’s only being used if police have run out of other options.


Defence lawyer Scott Newman worries it could permit police to go on a fishing expedition.

“The more broad and the more information that’s being provided, the more concern we have about people’s privacy,” said Newman.

Michael Franklin likes the reduced fare he gets with the Peggo card, but doesn’t like the idea of police getting easy access to his travel history.

“I feel like it’s personal,” said Franklin.

Privacy legislation allows for limited access to information without a warrant when it’s necessary to protect someone’s mental or physical health or safety. It’s also allowed for law enforcement purposes or crime prevention.

Mayor Brian Bowman, a former privacy lawyer, appears on board as long as the information is limited.

“Provided that’s what we’re talking about, provides me with assurances that it’s in compliance with privacy legislation,” Bowman said.

Police say they can only ask for limited Peggo card information about a specific investigation that could lead to an arrest, or help find a missing person.

Skrabek says an example would be establishing a timeline in a missing persons case when time is of the essence.

“At least we can say which bus number they’re on, which route, which direction they’re potentially headed in and get a quick response to that,” said Skrabek.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2017

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