CCTV car camera for safety on the road accident on abstract blurred bogey light of city in night background (Photo by Titikul_B from Shutterstock).

Audio recordings to be allowed in inward-facing in-vehicle recording devices (IVRDs) in taxis and private hire cars (PHCs)

Audio recordings will now be allowed in inward-facing in-vehicle recording devices (IVRDs) in taxis and private hire cars (PHCs) other than visual recordings.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has released an updated set of guidelines for the installation and use of inward-facing IVRDs in public service vehicles (PSVs) on Tuesday (2 July) which will come into effect on 15 July 2019.

There are two key changes to LTA’s guidelines for installation of inward-facing IVRDs.

First, all buses will now be exempted from LTA’s IVRD guidelines because buses are similar to public spaces and are shared by many passengers.

However, it said that LTA’s IVRD guidelines will continue to apply to taxis and private hire cars (PHCs), given that these are smaller enclosed spaces.

Second, audio recordings will now be allowed, in addition to video recordings, which was said to make the recordings more effective in supporting investigations into inappropriate or violent behaviour as well as fare-related disputes.

Previously, no audio recording is allowed in taxis and PHCs. In a response from LTA to a public letter, the guidelines aim to strike a balance between safeguarding the interests of drivers and protecting commuters’ privacy, given that not all commuters will be comfortable with having their every action and conversation recorded. But it noted that it may allow audio recordings in the future.

In its press release, LTA revealed that a recent REACH poll revealed that 9 in 10 respondents felt that these devices can help protect the interests of both commuters and drivers.

“Of those who agreed that such devices should be allowed in taxis and PHCs, around 9 in 10 also felt that both audio and video recordings should be allowed,” it added.

The authority reminded taxi operators, PHC booking service operators, taxi/PHC owners and drivers that they must obtain permission from LTA to install and use inward-facing IVRDs prior to approaching the authorised installation centres to carry out the installation.

It noted that there are three companies have been appointed as authorised installation centres for IVRDs and as data controllers, which are “i Vision Pte Ltd”, “Solo Pte Ltd”, and “SSTA Technology Development Pte Ltd”.

The authority said that all taxis and PHCs with inward-facing IVRDs installed must display signs or decals to notify passengers of the installed device. For pre-booked rides, taxi companies and PHC booking service operators must notify commuters in advance if a vehicle with an inward-facing IVRD is despatched to them.

In addition, LTA noted that only authorised personnel in relevant Government agencies and LTA-authorised data controllers are allowed access to the recordings to support investigation and enforcement efforts. All taxi drivers and PHC drivers are not allowed to use unauthorised recording devices such as mobile phones to record audio and/or video within their vehicles.