The Straits Times
Published on Dec 08, 2012

Surveillance cameras in cabs compromise a passenger's privacy


MY CAB driver father tells me that he and his colleagues installed surveillance cameras in their taxis to ensure that in the event of an accident involving their vehicles, they will be able to provide evidence on how it happened.

But while the intention for installing such cameras arises from the desire to protect one's interests and may appear harmless, it compromises the privacy of the passengers who board the taxis.

The surveillance camera functions like a video camera: It records the movements of the road traffic in front of the cab, and, at the same time, records the voices and conversations going on in the cab.

Passengers who board the cabs may not know that their conversations are recorded, because they are either unaware of the existence of the camera, or they do not know that it is able to record sound.

Passengers who are unaware of such cameras may inadvertently end up having

their private conversations recorded by strangers, and potentially made available to a wider audience.

That would amount to an invasion of privacy.

While I am not implying that taxi drivers will use the recorded conversations of passengers for illegal purposes, there must be a better protocol to protect commuter privacy.

One way is for taxi drivers to inform boarding passengers about the presence of a recording camera and offer them the option to have it turned off.

Esther Ue (Ms)