Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Have no fear! - JUTC Wi-Fi network won't collect personal data

Published:Wednesday | March 28, 2018 | 12:00 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Neil Lawrence

Jamaica Urban Transit Company's (JUTC) passengers are just a couple months away from travelling with free Wi-Fi at their disposal. In anticipation of this development, Neil Lawrence, chief executive officer of Growth Tech Limited, the company that will provide the service, is assuring passengers that there is no need to fear any privacy breaches.

"No personal data will be collected. The only thing we are going to collect is what customers provide," Lawrence told The Gleaner recently. "We won't ask for anything detailed. We are asking for things that will help businesses know who they are pushing products to. It is nothing related to infringing on anybody's privacy," he added.

"We will be asking, for example, if you are between the ages of 20 and 30, and if you are male or female. That basic information is enough. It (Wi-Fi service on JUTC buses) is no different from when you take your phone and connect to the Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or in Half-Way Tree," Lawrence disclosed.

Lawrence explained further: "Our technical experts are focused on ensuring that security is top priority. We will put firewalls in place, and things to prevent hackers from getting to customers. We won't implement anything unless it is top-of-the-line protection ... . When customers connect, we will have security around that and when they go on to certain websites, we will also be protecting them."

However, The Gleaner spoke to Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica Chairman Anthony Clayton, who emphasised that no technological system is safe from hacking, adding that the commission was working to ensure digital literacy among citizens.

"Virtually there is no system that I am aware of that cannot be hacked," stated Clayton. "We have to know that the price of having Wi-Fi and Internet access is that systems are not totally secure. As we have discovered with the Facebook scandal, people are freely uploading data and giving applications access to their contact lists, photographs and GPS (global positioning system) without realising."

jason.cross@gleanerjm.com