Appeal Over Southampton 'Taxi-Cams'

Southampton City Council has put in an appeal after it was told it couldn't record passengers' conversations in taxis.

From 2009, all taxis in the city had CCTV cameras fitted but an information watchdog has recently ruled it's an invasion of privacy. 

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said Southampton City Council had 'gone too far' in its desire to ensure people's safety. 

Most people would reasonably expect more privacy in the back of a cab, he suggested. 

While CCTV can still be used in taxis, making it compulsory to record all conversations in taxis must stop, Mr 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."

A decision on the appeal isn't expected until 2013. Until then, CCTV cameras are still in use.