Controversial plan to record all taxi conversations dropped
7:59pm Wednesday 30th May 2012 in Oxford
CONTROVERSIAL plans to record all conversations in Oxford’s taxis have been dropped after an outcry.
Oxford City Council this week agreed to reconsult on plans to demand cabbies install cameras.
But licensing boss Colin Cook said future plans would not insist on continuous sound recording following concerns from The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s data watchdog.
Mr Cook said: “The continuous audio recording is not something we will be pursuing.”
The council last year agreed sound and video must be recorded once the ignition is turned on and for 30 minutes after it is switched off.
Mr Cook, chairman of the council’s general purposes licensing committee, said sound recording could be activated by a “panic button” but the council still wanted continuous video recording.
He said the council only climbed down following discussions with the ICO, which warned constant recording could breach data protection laws. Consultation will take place this summer.
New drivers would have had to install the cameras from April 1 this year and existing cabs by 2015 but this had been put on hold following the ICO’s concerns pending “further and more extensive” consultation.
This will also take into account an impending national review on taxi licensing by the Law Commission.
The council and trade leaders have argued cameras are vital to provide evidence of attacks and allegations against drivers.
But civil liberties campaigners claimed the devices breach data protection guidelines and are an invasion of privacy.
Big Brother Watch campaign group director Nick Pickles said: “The council should just abandon the plan.”