Taxi cameras cause public unease in east Chinese province (2)

16:34, September 20, 2010      

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Li Ning, a local taxi driver, supported the installation of the cameras. "Working at nights can be very dangerous for us. Without such protection, I would avoid taking drunk men and idle punks. Those people might cause trouble and could even jeopardize the drivers' life," he said.

The device has been quite popular with taxi drivers, which can be partly attributed to its installation being free as advertising on the LED screens at the rear will cover it.

Wang Yuanyuan, an employee of a public institution, is one of a few residents who supported the move, as she thought the monitoring would help passengers retrieve their goods left behind in taxis.

This idea was confirmed by the Taxi Management Department. Yao said that through a GPS monitoring platform, police can locate a taxi within five minutes after receiving an emergency call, including its route, time and speed. If a passenger forgot to get the taxi fare receipt, police can find the taxi based on the time of drop-off and destination.

Even so, most residents oppose the move. Yang Yu, a university student of Wuhu City, questioned whether there wasn't another way to keep taxis safe.

"I feel like I'm being watched by someone, and my privacy violated. I think there must be more passenger-friendly ways," said Yang.

Lawyer Wang Jun with the Huida Law Firm of Anhui Province told Xinhua that taxis were different from other public transport means such as buses and subway trains. "Taxis are a more personal transport means, because passengers pay for the particular time in the taxi," he said.

If passengers' audio-visual records were disclosed or spread for profits, then the passenger's privacy and other rights would be violated, said Wang.

According to the Taxi Management Department, all relevant records will be kept for a month. Only police officers can request to see the camera recording when necessary.
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