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Constitutional lawyer upset with taxi cameras

Thursday 16 Jun 2011 6:44 p.m.

By Emma Jolliff

Cameras being installed in Wellington Combined Taxis can record both video and audio.

The new legislation requiring taxis to install cameras by August specifies images must be stored securely and protected from unauthorised access. It makes no mention of audio.

Constitutional lawyer Mai Chen says it's outrageous audio recordings in cabs will be allowed.

“My first reaction was why? I can understand the video but why do you want to record audio for security purposes. It's so much more intrusive than video,” she says.

Human rights lawyer Michael Bott says the legislation fails to protect consumers.

“There's no warning to people that what they say may well be recorded, and perhaps potentially be used as evidence against them for something else or it may be used to embarrass them at a later stage. There's nothing to protect people at all,” he says.

But Transport Minister Steven Joyce denies there's any problem with the legislation.

“It's not an oversight, it was actually considered by officials at the time and they decided they wouldn't make it a requirement, they also wouldn't make it a requirement not to do it,” he says.

“There's no requirement that they get rid of it. All it says is that you must keep it for 168 hours,” Mrs Chen says.

Chen says there's always a concern recordings might be mis-used.

“In terms of the recording of all this information it can very expressly only be used for a particular purpose, that is security and complaints,” says Mr Joyce.

“What will probably happen is that people will boycott cabs that are taking audio recordings, I'm certainly going to,” Chen says.

The minister says there'll be penalties of up to $10,000 for anyone caught mis-using the recordings.

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