Taxi cameras cause public unease in east Chinese province

16:34, September 20, 2010      

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Han Yun said she felt unsettled when she discovered a black camera in front of a passenger seat of the taxi she was riding in.

"It makes me uncomfortable, I feel like I'm being watched all the time," she complained. Han is among a raft of residents in Wuhu City of east China's Anhui Province who are against the installation of the cameras.

Under a plan mapped out by the Taxi Management Department of Wuhu City, a device combining global positioning and camera will be installed in all of the city's 3,024 taxies by mid-October.

Yao Aihui, director of the Taxi Management Department, said the camera would be activated when a driver switched on the taximeter. Audio-visual recordings would be made of each trip.

"If the taxi driver becomes in danger, he can push an alarm button in the taxi, and the surveillance center will be alerted immediately. Meanwhile, a distress signal -- 'Being robbed, please call the police' -- will appear on the LED screen at the rear of the taxi," Yao said.

The surveillance center and police alarm system are linked so the police can know what's going on inside the taxi, find the taxi's position and take quick action if need be.

"Although crimes in taxis are not very common in the city, being a taxi driver is a high risk job, especially at nights. We hope to use the device to deter crime and better protect the drivers," said Yao.

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