Controversial plan to record all taxi conversations dropped

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.”

Comments (3)

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12:02am Thu 31 May 12

Myron Blatz says...

Maybe to put things into context and onto a level playing field, City Councillors should also be 'bugged', so that good, honest Council Tax Payers aren't ripped-off and kept in the 'darke' about what they really discuss and plot, when not within public earshot ....?
Maybe to put things into context and onto a level playing field, City Councillors should also be 'bugged', so that good, honest Council Tax Payers aren't ripped-off and kept in the 'darke' about what they really discuss and plot, when not within public earshot ....? Myron Blatz
  • Score: 1

3:42am Thu 31 May 12

Oxford_Al says...

All council workers should have CCTV with audio in their homes and cars......I guess if that happens then the under the table business will be an issue.
All council workers should have CCTV with audio in their homes and cars......I guess if that happens then the under the table business will be an issue. Oxford_Al
  • Score: 1

8:59pm Thu 31 May 12

Sophia says...

Well, thank God for that. The idea that bugging every single private conversation in every single taxi journey made any kind of sense raises questions about the judgement and indeed sanity if those who proposed it
Well, thank God for that. The idea that bugging every single private conversation in every single taxi journey made any kind of sense raises questions about the judgement and indeed sanity if those who proposed it Sophia
  • Score: -1

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