The Straits Times says

Regulate use of ever-seeing cameras

Taxi drivers ought to be protected from errant passengers who abuse them or walk off without paying. According to the Public Transport Council, there were 240 cases of fare evasion in 2015, up from 68 in 2012. Cases of assault are more serious. One driver was punched repeatedly in the face when he alighted to check on a door slammed shut during a dispute between a man and his girlfriend. Cabbies have been assaulted by drunks and hit by tourists who think that they have been taken for a ride. In the face of such risks, taxi operators ought to take reasonable measures to protect drivers, especially seniors and women.

However, the unregulated use of inward-facing video cameras in taxis would be clearly unacceptable. And it would be high-handed to tell commuters to get out of the taxi if they don't wish their every move and conversation to be recorded. Of course, cameras do serve a purpose when the causes of altercations are contested. These devices can provide evidence of what took place, at least inside the cab, and the images can help to identify and track down fare cheats. At the very least, the cameras will have a deterrent effect - on both passengers and drivers who are inclined to stray. If recordings are used for only legitimate purposes, passengers might be more willing to tolerate such cameras, as all are entitled to feel safe in public transport.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2018, with the headline 'Regulate use of ever-seeing cameras'. Print Edition | Subscribe