Opposition to CCTV in Taxis

Oxford City Council is awaiting the verdict on whether they can install CCTV into their taxis. They were hoping to have this complete by 2015, with all taxis having cameras that would record images and audio but protests from a variety of people have suspended any further arrangements, at present. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is investigating whether this change will count as a breach of privacy. If the change is approved, taxi drivers will need to make sure they find a cheap taxi insurance quote, to offset the increased value of the taxi.

Among those who oppose this scheme is Oxford West and Abingdon MP, Nicola Blackwood. Ms Blackwood said, “It is an invasion of privacy and undermining of civil liberties that neither passengers nor taxi drivers themselves have welcomed. The ICO stated to me that recording conversations between passengers is highly intrusive and unlikely to be justified. CCTV plays an important role in combating crime but that has to be balanced with privacy concerns and used within common sense limits.”

A similar case occurred in Southampton, but the Crown Court ruled that recording passengers’ conversations was not necessary. Ms Blackwood later added, “I would need to see some very convincing evidence of a significant crime and anti-social behaviour problems in taxis that needs to be tackled by this specific measure in order to be convinced that it can be justified, and that it is in compliance with existing Data Protection legislation.”

Oxford City Council however, argues that CCTV is necessary in order to maintain public safety. They released the following statement, “There are laws in places that require the viewing of such images to be necessary and proportionate, and therefore must relate to specific complaint, incident or investigation. The officers are not permitted to view any images that do not relate to the actual matter being investigated. The risk of intrusion into private conversations has to be balanced against the interests of public safety, both of passengers and drivers.”

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