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Taxi cab recorders bring up privacy doubts

(China Daily)

13:43, November 25, 2011

SHANGHAI - Wide debate has arisen over the video cameras and sound recorders that have been installed in as many as 6,000 taxis in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province.

Critics say the devices infringe upon privacy.

But Xu Hong, director with the Nanjing passenger transportation management office, said they are in fact meant to protect the safety of drivers and the rights of passengers.

The cabs' recorders will run 24 hours a day and their cameras will be able to take eight pictures a minute.

The sound recordings will be stored in a data collector inside the taxis while the images will be transferred using a global positioning system to the police and to transportation management authorities. If a taxi driver feels endangered, he can press an emergency button that will make the camera start recording uninterruptedly and then send a report to the police.

As many as 6,000 out of the 9,000 taxis in Nanjing are now using the system. Those that do not have it will be replaced in the next couple of years.

"In the future, all taxis in Nanjing will be protected by the system," Xu said.

Some passengers said they are worried the recordings will be misused in ways that infringe on their privacy.

"What if a driver records a passengers' private conversation?" said Wang Minjie, a 21-year-old college student in Nanjing. "What if a girl accidentally exposes her lingerie in the summer and that is caught by the camera?"

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