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The taxi telescreen ~ even Orwell didn’t guess at this.

 This is a really good example of how something, once unthinkable, becomes the exception, then less the exception, then accepted and finally, the rule.


For reasons best known to themselves, Southampton City Council think it’s okay to record your every movement and sound when in one of the cabs they run the protection racket for (i.e. licence).


The notional excuse is to protect drivers, but that can’t be the real reason.  If you want to protect yourself as a driver, just buy a camera and have a sign in the cab declaring it’s there.  If passengers don’t like it, they can get another cab.  The council have no business here.  Similarly the idea that it somehow protects passengers is equally redundant.  If you want to record your cab journeys, do so.  Just let the cabbie know what you are doing and if he doesn’t like it, no contract. 


So what are they really up to?  Well part of it must be the belief that this is a good thing.  Some of ‘em actually believe the stuff they come out with and think it somehow couldn’t happen without the beneficent coercion of local government to compel it.  Others are probably just nasty Stasi freaks who like more control and more surveillance.  I wonder what happens to a day’s seemingly uneventful recording?  Is it deleted, relayed somewhere, backed up? I just don’t know.  My suspicion is that it maybe one of the latter choices because the alleged cost of £700 is quite a lot for videocam these days without some spicey features, even assuming inept government procurement, (although you can never quite rule out official stupidity).    


It’s hard to believe this stuff could catch many criminals, how dumb would you have to be to talk in front of a witness let alone a camera?  The council reckon it was evidential in a few attacks, but again, no need to involve the council or have them compel it as above.


Worst of all, the council like this idea but don’t like to be told they are wrong.  So they are ignoring the information commissioner and are appealing at god-knows-what-cost to the council tax payers.  One branch of government taking on another, in a third branch, namely the court system.


Can anyone think of a more futile waste of money?


Apropos nothing, has anyone seen that Clive Owen movie where he robs a bank, “Inside man” I think.  Anyway at the start he flashes some kind of light which disables all the cameras, Sci-fi or Sci-fact and if the latter where can I get one for Southampton taxi trips?


  1. PeterA5145 says:

    They’re probably looking for passengers indulging in politically incorrect rants after a few drinks so they can prosecute them.

  2. Cy says:

    It is only right an proper that the councillors supporting this measure should be compelled to give up any other vehicle for all travel within the city limits and use only these taxies instead.

  3. Roue le Jour says:

    Re: Inside man, I assumed it was a powerful infra-red light. Most cameras are sensitive to IR and a ‘bright’ enough one would damage the sensor without being visible to the naked eye.

    To demonstrate this, look at your TV remote through your phone camera. You can see it flash when you press the buttons. Don’t worry it’s not bright enough to harm the camera.

  4. SadButMadLad says:

    IR light doesn’t work on modern cameras. They now have IR filters. Even the cheapest smartphone will has them.

  5. bloke in spain says:

    What about a laser? 3mW red light enough?

  6. Roue le Jour says:

    I’ll take your word for it, SMBL, my newest camera/phone is five years old. However, for security cameras, which is what we’re talking about, IR is most definitely not filtered, it’s necessary for low light operation, in the back of a cab, say.

    Google IR security cameras and see.

  7. Schrodinger's Dog says:

    This is horrific. Why aren’t people protesting to high heaven? Rather it seems drivers and passengers approve of it. Perhaps people really do love Big Brother after all. But will they protest when the cameras are installed in their homes?

  8. Bill Sticker says:

    A camera that is under driver control to record dodgy punters, fair do’s. Being a cabbie can be a high risk occupation. Especially on night shift. Been there, done that. Recording everything anyone says and does, liable to be nicked and placed on YouTube by a disgruntled council employee as sometimes happens with CCTV footage? Not so fair.

    Maybe if a Southampton Councillor was caught on camera after a few drinks slagging off their constituents there might be a sudden change of heart? Petard, hoist by? The biter bit? Delicious irony.

  9. Lynne says:

    The people of Southampton have the solution in their hands – if they can be bothered to get off their arses and exercise it come the local elections. There’s nothing that focuses a councillor’s mind better than anticipating a sudden, with extreme prejudice, troughectomy.

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