Keeping the pressure on Oxford Council

This week, Big Brother Watch has campaigned against Oxford Council’s plans for compulsory recording of video and sound in taxis. From our first blog post, the story has been featured in local, national and international media and Big Brother Watch has led the campaign against this gross invasion of privacy.

The fight goes on to stop this happening and to hold Oxford Council to account for its disregard for civil liberties. We have already complained to the Information Commissioner and are calling for the Government, MPs, businesses, campaigners and residents of Oxford to call for the policy to be scrapped. If  you live or work in the city, or have friends and family there, why not let them know what is going on and ask them to support our campaign?

Writing in the Oxford Mail, I outline Big Brother Watch’s objections to the scheme – saying:

“This is a staggering invasion of privacy, being done with no evidence, no consultation and a total disregard for civil liberties. Big Brother now has big ears, and they are eavesdropping on your conversations with absolutely no justification.

“This sort of policy would not have been out of place in East Germany. It is absolutely not a policy that should be operating in Oxford.”

Policies like this are the first salvos in a battle for Big Brother to see and hear everything we do. We will continue to campaign to protect our privacy and defend civil liberties –  can you support us?

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  1. Ibrahim Hasan
    18th November 2011

    I do not think as the law stands the council is acting
    illegally per se. The Data Protection 1998 does not say CCTV cannot be
    installed in taxis. As in all cases where personal data is processed, it
    requires rules to be followed (8 principles). The main principle
    requires the data (i.e. CCTV images and recordings) to be processed
    fairly and lawfully. Without other specific laws which say it cannot be
    done and as long as drivers and passengers are told what is happening
    (with appropriate signs) I think they may be able to do it. The other
    point to note is that whilst the CCTV Code has to be taken into account
    by the Information Commissioner (the regulator) and the courts, it is
    not legally binding.However there is another possible area of
    challenge.  What happens if a driver refuses to have the camera
    installed? Will it be a condition of issuing a taxi license? If so is
    this condition lawful within taxi licensing regulations etc? There is a
    possibility of judicial review here of the regulations or any decision
    to refuse a licence based on human rights principles (Article 8 – the
    right to privacy especially of the driver). As with all privacy issues
    much depends on necessity and proportionality? If the cameras can never
    be switched off, for example, even when a driver is off duty or ferrying
    his family around there may be issues. Watch this space!

  2. Oldlegs
    23rd November 2011

    You’ll be interested to know that Herefordshire Safer Partnership are installing and plan to install up to 50 CCTV cameras into taxis by the end of the year. I have no details as to how the data is used, stored or secured as yet. This is alarming as there has been NO PUBLIC DEBATE about this. Herefordshire County Council are a law unto themselves.

    info souced from Herefordshire Matters Winter 2011

    It looks like CCTV will be in every home in the country by the end of the decade

    26th November 2011

    The problem we have in oxford is that most the cab drivers don’t agree with the cctv installment. As for the black cabs i’m sad to say the secretary of  the association[COLTA]has been pushing for these cctv’s without propper consultaion with the drivers. If the secretary of COLTA is so confident that these cameras will be installed why has he not gone out of his way to get a vote from all the proprieters of the taxi trade,because he knows he would loose that vote.Yet when members of COLTA have asked the secretary about transparency regarding COLT funds & other issues ,the secretary talks about data protection laws. WHERE THE HELL IS THE DATA PROTECTION FOR THE DRIVERS & PASSENGERS IF THESE CCTV CAMERAS ARE PUT IN.