Mandatory CCTV in taxis 'will breach data protection rules under current laws'
TAXI drivers with CCTV cameras in their vehicles for their security cannot use the footage in court under current data protection laws.
As it stands, regulations would have to change to use footage in court cases, according to the Data Protection Commissioner.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) have put proposals out for public consultation for CCTV to be mandatory in all taxis.
Many taxi drivers have already installed systems in their vehicles, John Motherway of safecabs.ie told the Herald, but he raised concerns about potential breaches of data protection if footage is uploaded online.
"As it stands, the current systems that many taxis are using stick to the windscreen and are connected to the cigarette lighter, and it means that drivers have sole control over whether they want to record with them or not," said Mr Motherway.
"The storage device is an SD card and there is nothing to prevent the driver or passenger tampering with or removing CCTV footage.
"Once that CCTV SD card is removed from the device and put into any laptop, it's possible to upload the videos online to YouTube and this would be a serious breach of data protection."
Mr Motherway also raised concerns that cases could be thrown out of court because the driver had no initial right to take the video.
This was confirmed by the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), whose spokeswoman said that a change in the regulations would be required for such evidence to become admissible in court.
"Technically, it's just another individual, they would be inadmissible in a court, because they had no consent from the other person to record it, so they wouldn't be able to use it," she said.
"It wouldn't be of use unless the regulation changes and they are allowed to have CCTV footage and they become the data controller of the CCTV footage," she added.
Mr Motherway, a taxi driver for five years in Cork, said that compulsory CCTV has been a long time coming for the taxi industry, and he sees no negative effects coming from it, if it is brought in.
Joe Herron of the Irish Taxi Drivers Federation told Newstalk that the cameras should be optional for taxi drivers.
Mr Herron said he is concerned that the new proposed implementations will be another financial burden on taxi drivers instead of the NTA.
"I've no doubt the cost will fall on the taxi driver," he said.
However, Mr Motherway said that funding your own security costs is part and parcel of every business.
"I think when you look at every business nationwide -they all have to fund their own security costs. They have to invest money for their own security," he said.