Will Oxford Council back down on audio CCTV in taxis?

Amid the furore over Government plans for massively expanded internet surveillance, we didn’t announce an important piece of news from Oxford.

Following our campaign against plans to force taxis in the town to record audio and video of every journey, Oxford Council has announced it is suspending the policy. Our campaign was joined by Nicola Blackwood MP and Nigel Farage MEP, who both wrote to the Council about the plans.

The rules will now not come into force until until the ICO has reported on whether the policy is lawful – exactly what we called for Oxford Council to do when Big Brother Watch Director Nick Pickles was refused entry to a meeting organised with local taxi drivers.

Speaking to the Oxford Times, executive member for city development Colin Cook said: “I’m in favour of this scheme but we are waiting for a response from the Information Commissioner’s Office.”

Council spokesman Louisa Dean added: “We have had an inquiry from the Information Commissioner who wishes to better understand the scheme. We are happy to assist in those enquiries.”

Quite why the Council had to wait until days before the policy to come into effect before suspending it, when the ICO’s investigation began last year, is unclear.

This is an important step forward but it is not victory – it is one step closer, but until Oxford Council has completely abandoned this intrusive, unwarranted and unwanted policy to record the conversations of anyone using a taxi in Oxford.