15 November 2011: The Metro reports that Oxford City Council is to require CCTV systems to be installed in its 650 licensed taxis by 2015, and that those systems must be capable of recording audio as well as video. The privacy NGO, Big Brother Watch, has condemned the move and says it will be making a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The local authority’s move raises important questions under the Human Rights Act 1998, the legislation that gives effect to the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Article 8 ECHR protects private, home and family life. The right is not absolute; measures can impact upon privacy in order to protect a legitimate aim, but they must be proportionate.
One can see various possible legitimate aims to the Council’s decision, not least the protection of drivers from physical and/or verbal abuse. But is the recording of passengers’ conversations really “necessary” in order to meet such a legitimate aim. Jim Duffy, a solicitor at Public Interest Lawyers, thinks this is questionable.
“Recording people's private conversations represents a new low in our ‘Big Brother’ society”, he says. “Taxi drivers, like all workers, are in need of protection from abuse, but the Council seems to be using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, and its approach could be wide open to legal challenge.”
See the full story at http://www.metro.co.uk/news/881733-cctv-cameras-to-be-fitted-in-taxis-as-big-brother-tapes-cab-conversations .