Council ordered to stop unlawful recording of taxi passengers conversations
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Issued 25 July 2012
Council has been ordered to stop the mandatory recording of passengers’
and drivers’ conversations in the city’s taxis, the Information
Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced today.
2009, the council has required all taxis and private hire vehicles to
install CCTV equipment to constantly record images and the
conversations of both drivers and passengers.
The ICO has
ruled the council’s policy breaches the Data Protection Act, concluding
that the recording of all conversations is disproportionate given the
very low number of incidents occurring compared to the number of
trouble free taxi journeys. An enforcement notice has been issued to
the council who now have until 1 November to comply.
Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said:
taxi operators to record all conversations and images while the
vehicles are in use, Southampton City Council have gone too far.
the Council’s desire to ensure the safety of passengers and drivers but
this has to be balanced against the degree of privacy
that most people would reasonably expect in the back of a taxi cab. It
is only right that the privacy of drivers and passengers is respected.
This is particularly important as many drivers will use their vehicles
outside work. While CCTV can be used in taxis, local authorities must
be sensible about the extent to which they mandate its use,
particularly when audio recording is involved.”
The ICO has
recently investigated a similar policy that was proposed by Oxford City
Council. The ICO took preliminary enforcement action stating that the
recording of passengers’ and drivers’ conversations in the city’s taxis
would breach the Data Protection Act. The council have now suspended
the implementation of the policy.
“We hope this
action sends a clear message to local authorities that they must
properly consider all the legal obligations on them before requiring
the installation of CCTV or similar equipment and that audio recording
should be very much the exception, rather than the rule.”
Protection Act states that organisations can only collect personal data
when it is fair and lawful to do so. For CCTV equipment in taxis, the
ICO advises that images should only be recorded where it is clearly
justifiable. Audio recordings should only be made on very rare
occasions, for example where there are a high number of serious
incidents and where recording is triggered due to a specific threat in
a taxi cab.
A copy of
today’s enforcement notice served to the council can be found on the
ICO website at:
comply with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence.
The ICO has
published a ‘CCTV Code of Practice’ to help organisations using CCTV to
stay within the law. This guidance is available at:
If you need more
information, please contact the ICO press office on 0303 123 9070 or
visit the website at: www.ico.gov.uk.
Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the
public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy
ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act
1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information
Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations
3. Enforcement notices are subject
to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory
Chamber against the imposition of the notice. Any Notice of
Appeal should be served on the Tribunal within 28 days of the date on
which this Notice is served.
About the Author
The Information Commissioner’s Office is the UK’s
independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public
interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for
individuals. We do this by promoting good practice, ruling on
complaints, providing information to individuals and organisations and
taking appropriate action when the law is broken.
The ICO enforces and oversees the following
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Freedom of Information Act 2000
- Privacy and Electronic Communications
- Environmental Information Regulations
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-08-08 09:03:31 in Business Articles
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