Nov 142011
 November 14, 2011  Posted by  Non-U.S., Surveillance

Oliver Evans reports:

All conversations will be recorded in Oxford’s taxis by controversial new CCTV cameras, which critics last night claimed broke privacy rules.

The plan for the city’s 662 taxis was last night branded an “absolute invasion of privacy”.

But Oxford City Council said the video and audio scheme was vital to provide evidence of attacks on drivers and in cases where there were allegations of driver misconduct.

Recordings would not be accessed unless requested by the police or council licensing officers for a specific crime or licensing issue, it said.

Read more in The Oxford Times.  Audio and video recording by CCTV is already in effect in buss and trains.

A comment in the The Oxford Mail addresses the issue:

Safety for passengers and drivers in Oxford’s taxis is a significant concern, but not one that allows council officials to ride roughshod over rights to reasonable privacy.

Oxford City Council’s scheme to introduce CCTV for all the city’s 662 licensed taxis had already proved controversial before we discovered that all conversations would be recorded as well.

Such a blanket scheme would seem to breach the Information Commissioner’s code of practice on the issue. It says recording conversations is unlikely to be justified and that sound on CCTV should usually be turned off. It refers to recording in a cab occurring only if a panic button is pressed.

Yet Oxford City Council does not believe it is flouting this code, saying the risk of intrusion is acceptable compared to public safety.

Read more on The Oxford Mail.

CORRECTION: I misattributed a comment in the Oxford Mail to an editorial in The Oxford Times. My apologies to both publications.

  One Response to “UK: Oxford City Council’s plans to install CCTV in taxis concerns privacy advocates (corrected)”

  1. Very interesting and concerning. However I do not think as the law stands the council is acting illegally per se. The Data Protection does not say CCTV cannot be installed. As in all cases where personal data is processed, it requires rules to be followed (8 principles). The main one requires the data to be processed fairly and lawfully. Without other specific laws which say it cannot be done and as long as drivers and passengers are told what is happening (with appropriate signs) I think they may be able to do it. However what happens if a driver refuses to have the camera installed? Will it be a condition of issuing a taxi license? If so is this condition lawful within taxi licensing regulations etc?

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