You’re probably familiar with the long-running HBO special “Taxicab Confessions,” in which cab passengers –often under the influence of some sort of intoxicant — open their hearts, minds, and sometimes their blouses to drivers of taxis rigged with multiple hidden cameras. Now the UK city of Oxford is turning its entire fleet of cabs into rolling recording devices.
According to the The Independent, cab drivers in Oxford have been told they have until 2015 to install the $740 camera and microphone setup, which remain on from the moment the ignition is turned on until 30 minutes after the car has been turned off. If the drivers don’t install the cameras, their licenses will be revoked.
Authorities say the goal of the recordings, which would only be accessible (at least in theory) to cops and city officials, is to keep the drivers safe. But obviously there are those that find the whole thing more than a bit intrusive.
“This is a staggering invasion of privacy being done with no evidence, no consultation and a total disregard for civil liberties,” says the director of Big Brother Watch.
A spokeswoman for the Oxford city council defended the plans:
The Council has an overall responsibility to promote the safety of the travelling public. The law allows the Council to impose any conditions on hackney carriage and private hire licences that it considers reasonably necessary. The proposals for [closed circuit TV] in vehicles have been promoted in consultation with the taxi trade and at each stage committee reports have been available to the public in advance of meetings.
The rep adds that there will be signage on the outside of the cabs to let people know they are being recorded.
Of course, if every cab in Oxford is required to have the cameras, then that warning basically means, “if you don’t want to be recorded, have fun walking to your destination.”
CCTV taxi plan ‘a staggering invasion of privacy’ [Independent.co.uk]
Thanks to Simon for the tip!