WOW! It isn’t often that we get to hear from Richard Stallman, a free software advocate, but when we do the Linux world takes notice. Mr. Stallman is addressing the problem of using what is called ‘Oyster’ which is a contactless cards used on London’s underground rail system. In his opinion the ‘Oyster’ system is:


Online payments cannot be made anonymously, so anyone paying online or linking their Oyster card to a credit card for automatic top-ups is handing their travel information to the government, Stallman argued. He also warned that the RFID chip on the card might be read at other times, allowing information to be gathered besides details of Tube and bus travel.

“The GNU system (often called “Linux”) has been developed, since 1984, for the sake of computer users’ freedom. Ironically, it is now the basis for a system designed to smother the freedom of the people of London, through online payments to Oyster cards,” Stallman stated in the email.

“Each Oyster card has a unique ID, which it transmits when it is used,” added Stallman, “So, if you make the mistake of connecting the card with your name, then Big Brother knows exactly when and where you enter the Tube system and where you leave. For the surveillance-mad government of the UK, this is like a dream come true.”

I respect Mr. Stallman’s opinion and his attempt to keep open source free from any type of misuse or abuse. What do you think?


Comments welcome.