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Oxford City Council Mandates CCTV Cameras In Taxies by 2015

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  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @01:46AM (#38056350)
    Obviously we can't have a discussion without the summary all but telling us how we're supposed to react.

    Thoughts?
    • by stms (1132653) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:30AM (#38056550)

      I for one support our omnipotent taxi monitoring overlords.

    • by wvmarle (1070040) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:27AM (#38056772)

      And without any indication on how the video is used. Who stores the video, and how? How long is it stored? Watched on random basis or in case of reported problems only? So many unknowns here, hard to give an opinion on it.

      But well who needs to know the answer to those basic questions anyway.

      • Monitoring will probably end up subcontracted to Youtube -

        cos its cheapest!

      • by xaxa (988988) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @06:55AM (#38057840)

        The most relevant opinion is from the Information Commissioner's Office, the government organisation that enforces the privacy laws:

        An ICO spokeswoman said the plans were "highly intrusive and unlikely to be justified".

        So it's unlikely to happen.

        Other articles (linked from the main one) suggest it's the taxi drivers who want this to "protect" themselves from drunk and rowdy passengers, though I'm not sure why that requires audio recording. It's hardly going to fix the problem though.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's all a bunch of left-wing FUD. Lets' face it, children are sometimes put in the position where they would need to take a taxi, and in that case we need cameras there to protect them against pedophile cab drivers. That way the police can confiscate the videos of child pornography and put them in there massive collection of confiscated porn.

      Most people on Slashdot always seem to neglect to think of the children when it comes to issues of warrantless surveillance. A city is a public place, and because of t

  • Firearms Rights (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    bet you're missing them now, aren't you.

    • Re:Firearms Rights (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:11AM (#38056720)

      It's not like you Americans are any better off, with your firearms rights. I've yet to hear of a single firearm being turned on a police officer who's assaulting a citizen who has offered no resistance at all, during the Occupy protests.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        It's not like you Americans are any better off, with your firearms rights. I've yet to hear of a single firearm being turned on a police officer who's assaulting a citizen who has offered no resistance at all, during the Occupy protests.

        That's what I've never understood about the American fetish with carrying fireamrs: any time you actually use them, you're going to be in just as much trouble as in the UK, especially if you use them against the government/law enforcement or whatever.

        If you get sent to jail for life for murdering a police officer, does it really matter whether you have a concurrent couple of months for illegally possessing a firearm too?

    • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

      I like that people have to convince the police that they're not a fruit loop before you can get a licence. I like that anyone who doesn't have a licence is automatically commiting an offence. I also like that my licence doesn't entitle me to wander around in publc with firearms.

  • by Mitchell314 (1576581) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @01:48AM (#38056362)
    is its own.
  • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @01:49AM (#38056370)

    In a society where crime isn't really "punished", the only other deterrent must be a police state where there is no sanctuary.

    As societies must include anyone who wants to do anything they like and must admit anyone from anywhere regardless of their culture, keeping order becomes more challenging because the only alternative to (vanishing) SELF-discipline is IMPOSED discipline.

    This sucks, but is better than the Clockwork Orange world of no order at all.

    • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:43AM (#38056844) Journal

      I prefer to take a page from socialism, and a page from libertarianism, and create a new book that works better than either one alone. Nothing in your personal life affects me, so I should have no say over it. I don't care who you marry, have sex with, what you put in your body or if you end your life. But your economic life effects me and everyone else in this society, so it should be partially regulated. With the right balance, and the a healthy amount of vigilance by the populace, this system can work. It's worked in the past, it works now, it can work for our future.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        (...) Nothing in your personal life affects me, so I should have no say over it. (...) what you put in your body or if you end your life.

        Except for the few quoted exceptions, you are basically describing any Scandinavian country...

      • Why do you presume that what someone does "in their private life" doesn't really affect others? Humans are socially interdependent. What happens in someone's private life very, very rarely _doesn't_ bleed over into the public sphere somehow. There is almost always a conflict between majority-minority rights even when the primary activity is "in private" because it drastically affects social convention outside. I don't believe you're really ready to accept the logical consequences of your statement.

        Take marr

    • A society where crime is "punished" is already sadistic and anti-science.

      Punishment doesn't work, and no amount of sad, old men whining about how they're better off because their parents used to beat them is going to change our nature.

      Loss of freedom for criminals definitely stops them (temporarily) from causing further harm, during which time they may or may not respond to efforts at rehabilitation.

      And reward sometimes works. Though much less than the feudalists disguising themselves as capitalists would h

      • by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @05:47AM (#38057494)

        The only reason you don't rape and murder is because you'd be punished if you did, right?

        Definitely. As I've played many violent video games, I already have the mentality of a murderer. The only thing that is keeping me from murdering people indiscriminately is my fear of being punished!

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          The only reason you don't rape and murder is because you'd be punished if you did, right?

          Definitely. As I've played many violent video games, I already have the mentality of a murderer. The only thing that is keeping me from murdering people indiscriminately is my fear of being punished!

          Plus the fact that your mum would ground you for like a trillion years.

      • The only reason you don't rape and murder is because you'd be punished if you did, right?

        No, but the only reason I don't exceed the posted speed limit when I'm late is because I would be punished. The only reason I pay my income taxes is because I would be punished if I did not. The only reason the local pub owner kicks everyone out by 2:00 AM is because he would be punished.

        In some cases, fear of punishment works. This is mostly true for violating laws that do not correlate directly to moral principles, as well as victimless crimes.

  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @01:49AM (#38056378) Homepage

    Here in Ottawa, we've had cameras in taxis for a while. I have no idea if anything has come of it, other than the added expense for each taxi owner of a possibly useless camera. Seems to me like the camera supplier is in bed with the city councillor...

  • Old News (Score:5, Funny)

    by skine (1524819) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @01:55AM (#38056398)

    Porn companies have been doing this for years.

  • Sydney taxis (Score:5, Informative)

    by Captain Sensible (141639) <jafaulkner@@@unwired...com...au> on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @01:56AM (#38056404) Homepage

    CCTV cameras have been fitted to taxis in Sydney for several years now at the request of the drivers. The hope is that this deters robberies. Does it work? I have never seen any figures - does anyone else know? They have also been fitted in State Transit buses with newer buses having a least three. In this case while it does not deter theft or assault it does lead to convictions. Also some entertaining reality TV on the news each night.

    • by bertok (226922)

      There's cameras on the buses and trains as well in Sydney. Cameras in taxi cabs are common in many countries.

      Public transport attracts vandalism, theft, and other petty crimes, I'm sure the cameras help keep crime rates down. Cameras protect cabbies from abusive or criminal passengers, and passengers are protected against the same from the cab drivers. There have been incidents of sexual assault of young drunk girls by drivers, I'm sure they'd be less likely to try that sort of thing if there's a camera on

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        What's everyone getting so upset about?

        The US-based fascists here on slashdot love to shout "1984! V for Vendetta!" every time the UK proposes a new law preventing cruelty to kittens. It distracts them from having to worry about their own country, where they think their freedom is absolute because some people can carry guns around.

    • Re:Sydney taxis (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sqr(twg) (2126054) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:24AM (#38056758)

      A Danish security firm says that attempted robberies went down by 80 % after they put stickers saying "taxi under camera surveillance" on cars belonging to Copenhagen taxi. Actual cameras were not allowed in taxis in Denmark at the time.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Most of the problems with taxi passengers are because they are drunk, so it seems unlikely that merely having a CCTV camera will prevent that sort of thing from happening. More generally CCTV does not really prevent crime; at best it displaces it but the chance of being caught or punished harshly is rarely a factor when someone decides to commit a crime.

    • by thephydes (727739)
      They are in Brisbane cabs as well. As a consumer rather than a driver, I am much happier that the cctv's are in the cabs - perhaps that's because I'm basically a law abiding citizen rather than a mindless drunken fuckwit.
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        They are in Brisbane cabs as well. As a consumer rather than a driver, I am much happier that the cctv's are in the cabs - perhaps that's because I'm basically a law abiding citizen rather than a mindless drunken fuckwit.

        A lot of people here would argue that the freedom bo be a mindless drunken fuckwit in public outweighs the horrible evil of the government potentially finding out what they've been up to and subjecting them to the law.

        • I'd argue having the population of Queensland deprived of that liberty is well worth giving up one's own for.
    • by BobSutan (467781)

      A taxi driver in the UK was spared false rape charges because he'd recorded the women scheming to get out of paying their fare, so there is value for drivers other than preventing robberies. The question though is who watches the watchers? IMO these CCTV systems should instead be cracked wide open so that the general public can view the feeds, not just have it limited to police. After all, they're in public spaces anyway so the people there have no expectation of privacy, so what compelling reason could the

  • Lots of taxi companies use cameras in cabs, mainly for detecting driver errors, like not wearing seatbelts, or sudden stops or other "violent" movements. They are sometimes still cameras, but can also be video cameras, though they are usually off until something trips them.The driver can also trip them in emergency situations, like if he's being held up.

    Adding them in an "always on" mode is kinda invasive, but as long as they are well-identified both inside and outside the cab, so you know beforehand what y

  • by Nick Ives (317) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:29AM (#38056536)

    I'm from Blackpool and, back in the day, both main parties used to have their conferences here every other year. My parents operated a taxi so they always overheard lots of gossip from the MPs they were ferrying around.

    Having the goings on in the back of a taxi being recorded by default would be staggering. No politician or business person could so much as have a phone conversation under those circumstances! I bet every pissant local government hack in Oxford will be trying to justify having a private driver, paid for by the council, when this comes into force.

    • The naive optimist in me says "Good! They should be caught with their weasel words and held accountable!"

      The realist knows that these conversations will be "lost", or the driver will know to turn the camera off for an off-meter fair.

      One rule for us, one rule for them, remember?
  • Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TennCasey (1667347) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:31AM (#38056556)
    It never ceases to amaze me just how accurate George Orwell was about where England was going.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That this is flagged +5 Insightful demonstrates that the poster is not alone in never having read anything by Orwell.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      It never ceases to amaze me just how accurate George Orwell was about where England was going.

      It never ceases to amaze me just how many slashdotters have leafed through 1984, completely ignored its historical and political context, and then go "aha!" in a Pavlovian reaction every time a story is posted that includes the words "UK" and "camera".

  • by flibbajobber (949499) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:40AM (#38056592)

    They've been compulsorily fitted to taxis in New Zealand since August. Taxi companies fitted them at their own expense. Drivers are saying they feel safer, and the industry is claiming the amount of abuse against drivers have dropped and the cameras have directly led to arrests, including for several very serious incidents. Despite the camera systems costing upwards of $1000 per vehicle, the drivers are saying it's money well-spent.

    So please ignore the cynicism of the Slashdot submitter & editor - they evidently do improve driver safety.

  • What, you don't think there are cameras in taxis in the US?

  • Fine by me as long as they sell the porn scenes on the open market.

    (Of course, the drivers will have to play 70s hump music on the radio.)

  • by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:53AM (#38056638)

    When someone says to you "I've got nothing to hide", ask them if they would be happy with the government putting a webcam in every room in their house. After all they have nothing to hide. Even the bedroom? Yes, the bedroom. Otherwise terrorists would just plot in their bedrooms. If they baulk, remind them of 911.

    Of course if they are on Facebook they might say "Kewl! Can I stream it from my Homepage? [share]"

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:57AM (#38056658)

    I bet one of the driving factors for making cameras mandatory are the drivers who want the camera and the car owners, who don't drive themselves, who do not want to spend the money on them. I drove taxi for seven years and would have welcomed a camera and panic button. The fact that this equipment exists will deter crime against cab drivers. Most of these posts have concentrated on rates of robbery. There are other crime against taxi drivers including assault, kidnapping and murder. The fact that one can no longer have a private conversation in a cab must be weighted against the right of a cab driver not to be killed.

    The privacy aspect is moot in that a cab is not a private place in which to have a private conversation. It is the mobile workplace of a vulnerable driver who has to drive stranger around. The driver is not allowed to pick his fares or destination and has no backup in the event he is attacked. Would you advocate removing CCTV cameras from convenience stores? In some cities cabs are treated like mobile ATMs where one uses a knife instead of a card.

    I live in Victoria BC and all the cabs have CCTV cameras in them and stickers on the side warning of that fact.

    • must be weighted against the right of a cab driver not to be killed.

      The cab driver has never lost that right. The only ones who even infringe upon it are criminals. To me, this is no better than the "terrorism" excuse. "Some people are criminals. Therefore, privacy is not allowed!"

      Would you advocate removing CCTV cameras from convenience stores?

      Yes. Honestly, I think society is too obsessed with the idea of perfection. As long as it is even remotely possible that a crime could happen, cameras must be installed! Somehow we managed to do without them in the past, and the result wasn't too catastrophic (as far as I know). I don't care for t

      • by tangent3 (449222)

        "It's okay for other people to die as long as my privacy is preserved"

        • It is likely that people will always die no matter what measures we take.

          I'm sure that installing security cameras in homes might prevent some deaths. Maybe. Perhaps banning cars, knifes, or pretty much anything would prevent some deaths. But would you say doing that is a good thing? I wouldn't. But apparently freedom if worthless if a few people are dying (perhaps not even that).

          I don't believe in perfect solutions, and I'd prefer not to be recorded wherever I go merely because a tiny portion of the popula

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      Your use of "a right not to be killed" implies that you would certainly be killed in the absence of a camera.

      That is a logical fallacy.

      What you meant to say was "a driver's wish not to be killed".

      Carry on.

  • by kawabago (551139) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @02:59AM (#38056666)
    The British don't have anything to protect them from their Government, I guess because their Government was set up to protect them from their King.
  • by siddesu (698447) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:10AM (#38056712)
    Taxi companies started installing them to help stave off a wave of robberies. Basically, a taxi driver at night is a lone guy with a wad of cash, who has to pick any company that waves a hand to them. Some people thought that was an easy wad of cash, and invented a couple of tricks to rob taxi drivers. After a rather large number of robberies that ended with anything from verbal assault to one or two murders, the companies began lobbying for cameras to protect the drivers. While there are obvious privacy issues, the issues of safety of the drivers seem quite legitimate.
  • I live just a few miles north of Oxford and whats more worrying to most is the fact that the camera will also record audio which seems to be a major shift in whats going to be held and who is will be accessible by.

    Student discussions is one thing, but if conversations containing commercial or political (local or national) nature is being recorded inadvertantly and help who can get at this stuff - newpapers won't need to 'hack' voicemails anymore just give the taxi drivers a few quid!

    I hope along with the ca

    • And if you are discussing secrets in a cab... then what about the cabby overhearing smartass? Or are cabbies in your world deaf dumb and blind like you?

      Here is a hint, if you got secrets, don't discuss them in other peoples places.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is not about secrets. It's about opinions that those with access to the footage might not like. Effectively you cannot voice any controversial thoughts anywhere, because you are always under surveillance. You always have to watch what you say because someone somewhere is recording and archiving it.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          This is not about secrets. It's about opinions that those with access to the footage might not like. Effectively you cannot voice any controversial thoughts anywhere, because you are always under surveillance. You always have to watch what you say because someone somewhere is recording and archiving it.

          Once you can get in serious legal trouble just for having controversial thoughts, the technology is irrelevant, and your society is doomed to fascism anyway, as the authorities could always find someone to grass on you anyway.

  • we've got people protesting that bankers make too much money. those very same protesters have never counted just how much of their own money they've paid to those same bankers.

    if you don't want to be on camera, stop going to the cameras.

    yeah, you'll lose the benefits of those services. of course. welcome to making choices. if it's important to you, you'll make it appropriately.

    so stop complaining. start noticing that you've chosen to take the taxi with the camera. you've chosen to take the subway with

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      we've got people protesting that bankers make too much money. those very same protesters have never counted just how much of their own money they've paid to those same bankers.

      if you don't want to be on camera, stop going to the cameras.

      yeah, you'll lose the benefits of those services. of course. welcome to making choices. if it's important to you, you'll make it appropriately.

      so stop complaining. start noticing that you've chosen to take the taxi with the camera. you've chosen to take the subway with the camera. you've chosen to purchase the car with the limiter. you could have walked, you could have cycled, and you coudl have built your own car.

      make decisions; actively.

      I hope this is sarcasm.

      There are thousands of cameras in public spaces to monitor pedestrians and cyclists in London. If you don't want to be recorded on CCTV, you have to make the choice to never go outside again.

  • Taxis in Finland have had them for years now, this is nothing new. As far as I am aware, the cameras record video only and are used to deter crime.

    • That's as may be in Helsinki for video surveillance. We've become rather accustomed to that in the UK.

      The line that's being crossed here (not particularly well highlighted in the summary) is that they will be making *audio* recordings of the interior of the taxi too.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @03:53AM (#38056884)

    ...points some people seem to be missing are:

    * An ICO spokeswoman said the plans were "highly intrusive and unlikely to be justified".
    * A council spokeswoman said the "video and *audio* would run all the time within the vehicle".
    * ...the scheme, which includes both black cabs and private-hire vehicles.

    So, it's likely that there will be a complaint from a civil liberties group to the Information Commissioner's Office, and the ICO is already regarding the plans as intrusive and unlikely to be justifiable. The plan is to include audio - which is unlike schemes in other towns and countries, which use video only. The scheme extends to black cabs, which have always (well, as long as I can remember...) partitioned the driver from the passenger(s).

    This is a Slashdot post because this *is* a new idea, quite unlike CCTV in taxis in other parts of the world. It raises the bar for intrusive surveillance. It's likely that even the CCTV-friendly UK state is going to oppose the scheme.

  • by Sylvanus (213197) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @04:21AM (#38057020)

    I live in Oxford and the cab drivers hate this idea. It's going to cost them at least £460 each at time when most of them are struggling to survive. They're also convinced its about snooping on them and have all raised privacy concerns. The council has refused to say who will have access to the tapes or what protections there will be.

    Most Oxford cab drivers are Asian and few can afford to live in Oxford itself and so drive in from surrounding towns. There are hordes of them demonstrating at the town hall before every council meeting but the councillors don't seem to care - whether their lack of local vote is causing that or not, I don't know. Every cab driver I've spoken to believes someone in the council is 'receiving inducements' for this - no idea if its true!

    Oxford City Council is hardcore Labour / militant and seems to regard large sections of the public as the enemy. Its elected by a bunch of leftist academics who have little idea or connection about the real world. Remember it was the last Labour government that tried to introduce ID cards, 90 days detention without charge and seems to have been complicit in torture. CCTV in taxis seems like a logical development!

    http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/archive/2011/11/14/Oxford+news+(om_oxfordnews)/9361537.Taxi_CCTV_breaks__rights_to_privacy_/ [oxfordmail.co.uk]

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Oxford City Council is hardcore Labour / militant and seems to regard large sections of the public as the enemy. Its elected by a bunch of leftist academics who have little idea or connection about the real world

      If they stopped everyone else apart from a few leftist academics voting, why don't you write and complain to your MP? Or surely there's a case for the Electoral Commission?

      Also, it's amazing that no one in the right wing press has noticed this before either, you truly are providing a valuable public service.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This would be nice in Portugal, we get lots of violence and robberies in our TAXI's, this would be a great way to defend the customer.
    Yes it's the other way around here, the customer's the victim!

    Wish we had these cameras for some time here, I could have gotten quite a few taxi drivers fired and even arrested for the crap they do to customers.

  • I wasn't aware that the singular was "taxy".

  • by IrquiM (471313) on Tuesday November 15, 2011 @05:48AM (#38057508) Homepage
    But there it's the taxi drivers that are getting tired of being accused of rape, and not the government. Actually, they're arguing against it.
  • Taxis around here have cameras, they were installed because of incidents with passengers assaulting drivers (e.g. to steal drivers takings). I think its a good thing as long as its clear that there is a camera before they get into the cab. Don't like it, don't take a cab, use another mode of transport.

    • Nonsense, Australia has always been a very tolerant and welcoming society towards cabbie bashers. In fact, we even allow them to head major political parties.
  • I work in Oxford at the moment, and one thing is for sure, next time I get into a cab and the taxi driver wants to have a conversation I now have a very good reason to ignore him and exercise my right to silence.

  • When I was in LV, every taxi I took had a camera on the dash recording the passengers and the driver. It was not clear if that stream was fed to the LVPD, or if it was just for the taxi company to monitor their drivers and passengers in case something went wrong.

    I'm not against the owner of a taxi recording what goes on inside his car. It's his property and he can do what he wants with it, and impose any conditions he wishes upon my use or occupation of it.

  • I'm sure they do actually improve driver safety. I just don't see how/why audio would help much. Where I live, there's CCTV everywhere, but they're not allowed to record audio. Take that out and it becomes much less intrusive, while still serving its purpose.

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