Boris confirms London’s total surveillance system, but leaves out something very crucial

Boris Johnson
Tom Coburg

In a leaked recorded speech at a private dinner for Conservative activists on Wednesday 6 June, Britain’s foreign secretary and former mayor of London let rip about his views on Brexit. But later in the same speech, the gaffe-prone cabinet minister revealed what some may have suspected. The capital has in place a total surveillance system, linked to the Oyster card.

But what Johnson failed to mention is that the company which manages the Oyster card also has a long history of providing support to military and defence systems.

The gaffe

A private talk given by Johnson was leaked to BuzzFeed. In an almost throwaway line, he also potentially referred to a surveillance system operated via Transport for London (TfL):

You know, when I was mayor of London… I could tell where you all were just when you swiped your Oyster card over a tube terminal, a tube gizmo.

He admitted, then, that in his official capacity he had access to London-wide surveillance data.

Cubic Corporation, the company that developed and manages the Oyster card system for London’s Underground and buses, boasts that in London:

  • Over 1 million contactless bankcard journeys are made every weekday.
  • Around 25,000 unique new cards [are] seen every day.
  • 14 million taps are made by Oyster cards, and 1.8 million by… bankcards daily

Cubic manages similar systems elsewhere, including Sydney, Brisbane, Vancouver, and Chicago.

Cubic’s military support services

But there’s another side to Cubic’s business.

In addition to transportation systems, Cubic also provides support services to the military:

  • Mission Support Services – providing support services for all echelons of national militaries and security forces in the US and allied nations.
  • Cubic Defense Applications – of live air and ground combat training systems worldwide, a supplier of virtual and immersive training systems, communications and electronics products, and a provider of cyber technologies and global tracking solutions for commercial and national military customers.

Specifically, it provides training for military, as well as support for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.


Contracts in recent years include:

  • A $6.5m subcontract from General Dynamics Amphibious Systems to develop and produce a Driver Simulator and a Turret Simulator for the Marine Corps new Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.
  • A $6m contract from Raytheon/Lockheed Martin Javelin Joint Venture to produce tactical trainers for RLM’s shoulder-launched, “fire-and-forget” anti-tank missile.
  • One of several companies working with General Dynamics under a contract from the US Joint Forces Command’s Joint Experimentation Program (JEXP) to help establish the Joint War-fighting Center at Fort Monroe.
  • A $6.2m contract from the US Army to design, develop and implement the Battle Command Knowledge System.
  • Cubic also received a contract from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to coordinate training exercises for military and civilian organizations to respond to chemical, biological, nuclear and high-explosives attacks.
  • The Avionics Advanced Development division of Cubic redesigned their AN/ARS-6 Personnel Locator Systems which has been used in every global military operation since 1987. These devices are the standard search and rescue system for US and NATO forces.
  • Cubic is also developing the Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, an air/ground data link system for the US military.


Given Cubic’s other business arms, questions should be asked about the role the company plays in monitoring people’s movement via transport systems in London and elsewhere.

Something that Boris Johnson may wish to elaborate on further.

Get Involved!

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured image via EuroNews – YouTube

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed