Oxford MP joins campaign against audio CCTV

This afternoon Oxford Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, has joined Big Brother Watch in urging Oxford City Council to suspend their scheme to install CCTV cameras in all new taxis from 1 April.

This follows from last week’s protest by taxi drivers, attended by Big Brother Watch Director Nick Pickles, who was not allowed to participate in a meeting with Council officials. The Oxford Mail covered Nick’s exclusion, while he also spoke to ITN News about the serious privacy implications of the Council’s requirement for taxis to record both audio and video CCTV.

Nicola said “It does seem to me that the City Council has crossed the line with this policy, it is an invasion of privacy and undermining of civil liberties that neither passengers nor taxi drivers themselves have welcomed. The ICO has stated to me that recording conversations between taxi passengers is highly intrusive and unlikely to be justified.

“CCTV plays an important role in combating crime and anti-social behaviour but that has to be balanced with privacy concerns and used within common sense limits. I would need to see some very convincing evidence of a significant crime and anti-social behaviour problems in taxis that needs to be tackled by this specific measure in order to be convinced that it can be justified, and that it is in compliance with existing Data Protection legislation.  The City of Oxford Licensed Taxi Cab Association has now raised serious concerns about the practical operation of these regulations and whilst the ICO’s investigation into this matter is ongoing and I think it would be sensible for the City Council to wait for the ICO’s formal response before implementing such a costly and invasive policy.”