Now Southampton Council faces action for audio taxi recording

After our successful campaign against Oxford council’s plans to force local taxi drivers to record the conversations of their passengers, the focus has now turned to Southampton.

We had urged the Information Commissioner to investigate the use of audio recording and today the Information Commissioner ordered Southampton Council to stop it’s own version of the same policy, issuing an enforcement notice and giving the council until 1 November to comply.

As we have consistently argued, recording every minute of every passenger’s conversations in taxis is an unjustified and intrusive measure, and we’re pleased the Information Commissioner is now taking action against to stop Southampton council forcing taxi drivers to spy on their customers.

As the Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said:

“By requiring taxi operators to record all conversations and images while the vehicles are in use, Southampton City Council have gone too far.

“We recognise 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.”

What is deeply concerning is that two councils have made huge errors of judgement in pursuing audio recording in taxis and that is an issue the Commissioner needs to urgently address. Across a whole range of issues councils time and time again fail to respect people’s privacy and this attitude must be tackled.

Let us know if your council is thinking about pursuing an audio-recording policy.