Hong Kong taxi camera scheme triggers passenger privacy concerns

Trial CCTV programme aimed at resolving disputes between drivers and riders receives mixed response

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 September, 2016, 3:28pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 September, 2016, 4:59pm

A trial scheme to install CCTV cameras in taxis to assist in resolving disputes between drivers and passengers has drawn a mixed response from the public.

The proposal, announced by the Association of Taxi industry Development on Monday as a means to address complaints of poor behaviour of taxi drivers, raised concerns over whether passengers’ privacy would be compromised should the recorded data fall into the wrong hands.

But association spokesperson Francis Li Chiu-fan allayed such fears during a radio programme on Tuesday, saying the data would be encrypted and there was no way drivers could retrieve the information.

You talk about privacy – there are cameras everywhere on the streets these days and people are aware of them.
Mr Lam, a daytime taxi driver

Taxi Dealers and Owners Association chairman Ng Kwan-sing said similar cameras were already installed on buses and trams, and regulations specify the data can only be retrieved by authorised persons, such as law enforcement agents.

But their assurances failed to convince some people, including Mr Lee who called into the radio station to voice his discontent with what he called an “absurd” plan.

“A lot of taxi passengers were actually paying for some privacy, with many discussing private matters on board…I will definitely not get on one of these taxis, and I call on others to boycott them as well,” he said.

But there were taxi drivers who supported the plan. Mr Lam, a daytime taxi driver who also called into the radio station, said the data would not only protect passengers, but also drivers who were often accused of misconduct.

“You talk about privacy – there are cameras everywhere on the streets these days and people are aware of them,” he said.

The association said the recorded footage and audio would initially be stored for two days, with plans to extend the storage period to 30 days.