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Criminelen niet bang voor kentekencamera's
 
 
Criminelen hebben weinig te vrezen van de honderden slimme camera's van de politie die kentekens kunnen scannen van auto's.
De camera's herkennen de kentekens van auto's van criminelen en geven die door aan de politie. Regelmatig worden zo gezochte criminelen gesignaleerd door de camera's, maar de politie laat ze meestal gewoon doorrijden, blijkt uit onderzoek in opdracht van het WODC (.pdf), het Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum van het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie.
 
Geen bewijs
Justitie gebruikt de opnames van de camera's niet als bewijs. Wel is een aantal criminelen gepakt, dankzij de zogenoemde ANPR-camera's. Maar dat kwam omdat de politie op de beelden kon zien in welke richting de verdachten waren gevlucht, blijkt uit het onderzoek.
 
Te veel informatie
Een bijkomend probleem voor de politie is dat er veel te veel informatie wordt verzameld door de ANPR-camera's. Te veel om op alle signaleringen van verdachte kentekens te reageren. Zo werd in 2009 in Rotterdam Rijnmond in 60% van de gevallen niets gedaan met meldingen van de camera's. Het korps kreeg in dat jaar in totaal 4 miljoen meldingen, zo'n 10.000 meldingen per dag.
 
Innen van boetes
Toch is het niet zo dat de ANPR-camera's tandeloze tijgers zijn. Vooral bestuurders met openstaande boetes of belastingschuld moeten oppassen voor de camera's, want daar gaat de politie wel achteraan. Zo schrijven de onderzoekers in het rapport 'Hits en hints': "op dit moment wordt ANPR door de politie vooral gebruikt voor het plukken van laaghangend fruit: het innen van boetes en niet voor het opsporen van criminelen."
 
Intelligente camera's
De politie in Nederland beschikt over zo'n 200 ANPR-camera's, de meeste daarvan hangen in de regio Rotterdam-Rijnmond. Daarnaast heeft de KLPD veel surveillanceauto's uitgerust van de kentekenplaatherkenningscamera's.
Kentekens van auto's van verdachten kunnen in het systeem worden gestopt en de camera's geven een signaal aan de politie als de auto die wordt gezocht voorbijrijdt. Maar er moet dan wel een politieauto beschikbaar zijn om de verdachte auto aan te houden en die is er meestal niet, blijkt uit het WODC-rapport.
 
Prioriteit geven
In België zet de politie de ANPR-camera's juist wel in in de strijd tegen inbrekers en overvallers. En met succes. De politie in Turnhout gebruikt in minstens de helft van de strafzaken informatie die afkomstig is van de slimme camera's. Korpschef Roger Leys van de politieregio Turnhout is dan ook zeer enthousiast over de ANPR-camera's als opsporingsinstrument: "de gevangenis in Turnhout zit overvol. We kunnen echt wel zeggen dat dit fundamenteel bijdraagt aan identificatie en opsporing van daders."
 
Vaker inzetten
De Raad van Korpschefs zegt in een reactie dat de politie de camera's wel "breder inzet dan alleen voor het innen van openstaande verkeerboetes." Maar ze erkent dat het middel nog intensiever kan worden ingezet tegen criminelen. "Er is sprake van een gestage groei van expertise over en gebruik van het middel", schrijft de politie in een reactie aan het RTL Nieuws.
 
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Chip in kenteken: geen ontkomen meer aan
 
De Nederlandse overheid gaat onze kentekenplaten massaal chippen. Daar lijkt geen ontkomen meer aan. Eind vorig jaar leurde een VVD’er al met dit idee, en nu komt ook de RAI Vereniging met een advies aan minister Schultz om de RFID-chip op grootschalige wijze te implementeren in auto’s. Een ultiem middel om totaalcontrole op de weg te verkrijgen in de strijd tegen benzine- en autodiefstal.
De chip van het type RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) leent zich goed om op afstand op een simpele manier te worden uitgelezen. Elke chip in het kenteken krijgt een unieke code die, samen met de cijfer/lettercombinatie op de plaat, voor een unieke identiteit zorgt. Alsnog fraudegevoel door middel van jatten zegt u? Ook daar hebben ze wat op gevonden. Iedereen krijgt namelijk nog een klein ‘kenteken’ achter de voorruit, dat ook weer voorzien is van een RFID-chip. Als dit plan er komt moeten we dus verplicht ZO’N STICKER opplakken.

Agenten en bijvoorbeeld pomphouders kunnen op een afstand van ongeveer 20 meter de chip uitlezen met een scanner (á duizend euro) en zien dus direct wat voor vlees ze in de kuip hebben: staat de auto als gestolen geregistreerd & kloppen de kentekengegevens wel of niet.

Stichting Aanpak Voertuigcriminaliteit vermoedt dat er dankzij het chipkenteken honderden auto’s minder verdwijnen, omdat de omgekatte exemplaren direct door de mand vallen bij een controle. Tenzij ook de voorruit met het mini-kenteken wordt overgezet natuurlijk. Of die RFID-chip wordt gekraakt & vervalst. Want echt waterdicht zijn systemen van de overheid in combinatie met chiptechnologie nou ook weer niet.

Wie denkt dat dit plan onhaalbaar is heeft het mis. Een collectief gevormd door de RAI Vereniging, RDW, ANWB, BOVAG, het Korps landelijke politiediensten, openbaar ministerie en de producenten van nummerborden hebben allen hun zin gezet op het chippen van kentekenplaten. Die semi-digitale gele plaat komt er dus gewoon. Of u dat nou wil of niet.

Het invoeren van de chipkentekens zou 17 miljoen euro kosten, en een besparing van 70 miljoen euro voor het bedrijfsleven alsook de overheid moeten opleveren. En we zijn allemaal weer een stukje zichtbaarder op de overheidsradar. Maar aan de andere kant: brandstofstelende mafketels wordt het zo een stuk moeilijker gemaakt. (via Telegraaf)
 
 
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'Kentekens moeten antimisdaadchip krijgen'
25 mei 2012 10:14
Alle kentekenplaten in het Nederlandse wagenpark moeten een op afstand uitleesbare chip krijgen. Dit om onder meer ontduiking van de motorrijtuigenbelasting en benzinediefstal tegen te gaan. Dat staat in een advies van de RAI Vereniging.
 
Woordvoerder Harald Bresser zegt vandaag dat onder meer de RDW, het Openbaar Ministerie, het KLPD, de ANWB en deBovag hebben meegewerkt aan het advies. De zogenoemde RFID-chips zouden in de kentekens komen en in een derde 'minikenteken' in een vignet achter de voorruit. De chip bevat de numerieke code die nu al op de kentekenplaten staan. Deze code verschaft de auto een digitale identiteit, aldus Bresser.
 
Op 20 meter uit te lezen
Volgens RAI Vereniging is de chip op ongeveer 20 meter afstand uit te lezen, wat het werk van de politie gemakkelijker maakt. De chip is specifiek bedoeld om ontduiking van de motorrijtuigenbelasting, benzinediefstal en voertuigdiefstal tegen te gaan. De chip kan echter ook worden gebruikt voor andere opsporingsdoeleinden, al is dat volgens de bedenkers niet de insteek.
 
Haalbaar en betaalbaar?
Het ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu heeft het rapport donderdag ontvangen en gaat het nu bestuderen, samen met het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie. “We kijken onder meer of het invoeren van een chip technisch haalbaar is en of het betaalbaar is”, zegt een woordvoerster. Het departement wacht ook nog op een advies van onderzoeksinstituut TNO over het eventueel invoeren van plastic nummerborden. Dat wordt op korte termijn verwacht. Rond de zomer zal minister Schultz van Haegen dan reageren op beide rapporten.
 
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School gaat leerlingen via RFID-chip volgen
27 mei 2012
 
Een Amerikaans schooldistrict is van plan om leerlingen via een RFID-chip in hun studentenkaart te volgen, om zo nauwkeuriger het aantal leerlingen te kunnen tellen. Volgens schoolfunctionarissen helpt dit bij het beter in kaart brengen van de leerlingenopkomst, wat deels voor het budget verantwoordelijk is dat de scholen van de overheid krijgen. In eerste instantie wordt er bij twee scholen gestart. Als de test een succes is, zal die onder alle scholen in het Northside Independent School District worden uitgerold, wat betekent dat zo'n 100.000 leerlingen te volgen zijn.

"We willen de technologische mogelijkheden benutten om scholen veiliger te maken, zodat we te allen tijde weten waar onze leerlingen zich op school bevinden, en om de inkomsten te laten toenemen", aldus woordvoerder Pascual Gonzalez. "Ouders verwachten dat we altijd weten waar hun kinderen zijn, en deze technologie helpt ons daarmee."

Kosten
De chiplezers op de scholen en in de schoolbussen kunnen de locatie van een leerling bepalen, maar zouden ze niet kunnen volgen zodra ze het schoolterrein verlaten. Daarnaast zou alleen geautoriseerd personeel toegang tot de informatie hebben.

De kaarten gaan zo'n 10 euro per leerling kosten. Het opstarten van het pilotprogramma kost 420.000 euro en nog eens 100.000 euro per jaar om te onderhouden. Aangezien het schooldistrict 140.000 euro per dag misloopt door afwezige kinderen, zou het programma zichzelf moeten terugbetalen.
 
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Lavaur. "Pouvoir et contrôle des individus"
 
 
 
 
Une projection-débat avec PMO (Pièces et main-d'œuvre) se déroulera le mercredi 4 janvier à 20 h 30 à la Halle aux Grains de Lavaur. Le progrès de la société industrielle c'est la croissance, une croissance qui menace les équilibres écologiques encore existants.
 
Il s'agit dès lors pour la gouvernance de trouver les moyens de rendre acceptables les nuisances du développement. Parmi les dispositifs disponibles pour y parvenir, tout l'arsenal de la société de contrainte. « L'observatoire de l'évolution » et l'association « Et si on en parlait » présentent: « Comment s'opposer au contrôle des individus par le pouvoir ?»
Ce qu'on nomme la crise (et qui n'est que le dépassement des limites humainement raisonnables de la croissance industrielle) impose à la gouvernance de disposer de moyens toujours plus sophistiqués de contrôle du vivant et des populations ; d'où la nécessité de la société de contrainte
 
Projection de « RFID : la police totale » un film de 28 minutes contre la tyrannie technologique et l'avènement de la société de contrainte. Quant à la contrainte, il ne faut entendre par là ni plus ni moins ce que le Robert et le Dictionnaire étymologique du français en disent.
 
Nous ne jouons pas sur les mots. Contrainte, nom féminin dérivé au XIIe siècle du verbe contraindre pour signifier 1) une violence exercée contre quelqu'un, une entrave à la liberté d'action. 2) Une règle sociale, morale, obligatoire. Le mot vient d'une racine Indo-européenne *streig- « serrer », d'où stringere en latin, strictus, constringere « lier étroitement ensemble » ; constrictio « resserrement » et constrictius, qui resserre, tel le boa constrictor. C'est cela. C'est exactement cela.
 
Serrer, resserrer, lier étroitement en un filet constricteur. En vain aurions-nous cherché un mot plus apte à nommer les nouveaux modes d'organisation de l'ordre public.
 
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press release
Jan. 25, 2012, 8:30 a.m. EST
 
RFID HUMAN
 
VeriTeQ Acquisition Corporation's VeriChip Technology Is the Original Universal Patient Identifier to Address National Need for Rapid, Accurate Access to Critical Patient Data
Cleared by FDA in 2004, the VeriChip RFID Implantable Microchip Is Guaranteed to Always Be with a Patient to Securely Identify the Patient and Their Personal Medical Information
 

 

 

        DELRAY BEACH, Fla., Jan 25, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- --Wall Street Journal Article HighlightsNeed for Patients to Have Unique ID Number for Medical Records
 
VeriTeQ Acquisition Corporation ("VeriTeQ"), a leader in implantable, radio frequency identification ("RFID") for humans and animals, and Connectyx Technologies Holdings Group, Inc. ("Connectyx") (CTYX.PK) announced today the companies offer best-of-breed solutions for emergency access to rapid, accurate patient data that address the need for universal patient identifiers (UPIs) and patient-controlled personal health records.
 
The purpose of a UPI is to uniquely and properly identify a patient for appropriate medical care. With its VeriChip, a radio frequency identification (RFID) implantable microchip, VeriTeQ provides the first and only solution for an opt-in UPI that is guaranteed to always be with a patient. The FDA-cleared VeriChip is a passive RFID microchip the size of a grain of rice that stores a 16-digit number and is implanted just underneath the skin. When a proprietary handheld reader is passed over the area where the microchip is implanted, the 16-digit number is displayed on the reader, and can then be used to access a secure, web-based personal health record.
 
Advocates of UPIs reason that the unique identification numbers can link patient information across multiple electronic medical records systems; enhance patient control and privacy over their information; improve the speed and quality of medical treatment; reduce medical errors by properly identifying patients and their medical data; decrease medical identity theft; and, ultimately, lower healthcare costs. In fact, preventable medical errors are a real problem in the U.S. In 2000, 2001 and 2002, an average of 195,000 people died due to potentially preventable, in-hospital medical errors according to a 2004 study of 37 million patient records released by HealthGrades. The VeriChip quickly and accurately identifies a patient and their health records, whether in a physician's office or an emergency situation, to help improve care and decrease healthcare costs.
 
For individuals who choose to opt out of VeriChip but endorse the value of patient-controlled personal health records, VeriTeQ will be able to offer alternate methods of emergency access to a personal health record through its planned merger with Connectyx Technologies. This week, VeriTeQ announced it signed a Letter of Intent to merge with Connectyx Technologies Holdings Group, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Connectyx Technologies Corp. the manufacturer and distributor of the MedFlash(R), an innovative Personal Health and Wellness Management System (ePHM) designed for maintaining personal health records.
 
MedFlash was launched in 2007 and has thousands of active members across the U.S. MedFlash is sold by leading membership organizations and retail outlets, including portions of national drug store and grocery store chains. MedFlash has multiple methods of emergency access to a member's personal health record, including a toll-free number, telemedicine, smart phone access, internet access, USB flash drive access, and Quick Response codes.
 
"For many years, it has been apparent that the archaic process of relying on paper-based healthcare records needed to evolve to the digital world to allow for faster access to patient data and more informed treatment decisions," stated Scott R. Silverman, Chairman and CEO of VeriTeQ. "Now, as different electronic medical records systems are put into place within physicians' offices and healthcare systems, we believe the call for a UPI is imperative."
 
Silverman continued, "Patients can also serve an important role in managing their healthcare through the use of personal health records. We provide them with the greatest security and peace of mind through our VeriChip, which is always guaranteed to be with a patient and provides the utmost in privacy. Through our planned merger with Connectyx, we will also provide flexibility to individuals through MedFlash, which enables people to choose which method of personal health record access is right for them."
 
According to a California Healthcare Foundation report, "Consumers and Health Information Technology: A National Survey," a majority of respondents said they are concerned with the privacy of their personal medical records. However, those already using personal health records are slightly less concerned. In fact, 63 percent of personal health record users are concerned generally about the privacy of their medical records, but fewer than half say they worry about the privacy of the information in their personal health record.
 
Upon consummation of VeriTeQ's merger with Connectyx, the company will be renamed VeriTeQ Corporation and will continue to trade on the OTC Pink market, under the new ticker symbol "VTEQ."
 
About VeriTeQ
VeriTeQ develops and markets innovative, implantable RFID technologies for humans and animals including sensor applications. VeriChip is the first human-implantable passive RFID microchip cleared for medical use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. On January 12, 2012, VeriTeQ announced it acquired the VeriChip implantable microchip and related technologies, and Health Link personal health record from PositiveID Corporation /quotes/zigman/6472889/quotes/nls/psid PSID -8.54% . PositiveID has retained a 10 percent ownership interest in VeriTeQ. For more information on VeriTeQ, please call 561-805-8011.
About Connectyx Technologies
Connectyx Technologies provides unique products for the healthcare market including MedFlash(R), the electronic Personal Health Manager (ePHM). The MedFlash(R) PHM is an easy to use Personal Health and Lifestyle Manager that is accessible using a powerful web portal suite. The MedFlash(R) PHM also features a 24/7/365 call center, a USB flash drive and our smartphone applications with Scan code capability. The MedFlash(R) PHM provides member benefits including instant access to your Emergency Medical Profile and Personal Health Record in the event of an accident or a medical emergency. Whether traveling, at work, or at home, First Responders have an invaluable advantage when they have access to this time critical information. Far more than just an emergency flash drive, the MedFlash(R) PHM can be accessed on any computer, securely and with complete privacy. There are also lifestyle and wellness features that provide significant health benefits to members and risk mitigation for employers and insurers alike. Connectyx products are developed with the needs of patients, families, doctors and First Responders in mind. For more information, please visit our websites at: www.connectyx.com , www.phrtoday.com and www.medflash.com.
 
Safe Harbor Act: This communication includes forward-looking statements made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that involves risks and uncertainties including, but not limited to, the impact of competitive products, the ability to meet customer demand, the ability to manage growth, acquisitions of technology, equipment, or human resources, the effect of economic business conditions, and the ability to attract and retain skilled personnel. The Company is not obligated to revise or update any forward-looking statements in order to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date of this communication.
 
SOURCE: VeriTeQ Acquisition Corporation
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Where to mate? 1984 please.
 
  - Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro), Taxi Driver 1976
The use of surveillance cameras in taxis that record both sound and images hit the headlines last week, when it emerged that the City Council of the historic English city of Oxford was making them compulsory for all local private hire vehicles [1]. Many commentators were shocked by the depths to which the surveillance society had now stooped but few spotted that this phenomenon has been around for over a decade, and not just in the UK. CCTV in taxis is a worldwide development. The globalised surveillance industrial complex offers one-solution-fits-all products regardless of regional differences or actual need. Wherever taxi cameras have been introduced the measure has courted controversy and time and time again privacy laws around the world have seemingly been unable to restrain this addition to the surveillance panoply. It is through such incremental steps that societal values have and continue to be eroded. Driving a taxi undoubtedly has risks, particularly at night with an alcohol fuelled clientèle, but is there actual evidence that cameras can significantly improve driver safety? Even if cameras were effective, are they truly acceptable? Are there not other measures that could be introduced which would have less impact on the freedoms of taxi passengers?
 
Background
Amazingly the first city to introduce compulsory taxi cameras was not in the UK. That dubious accolade goes to Perth in Australia, where a licensing condition was introduced from mid December 1997, after an 18 month decision making, testing and development process. Other countries with cities that have compulsory taxi cameras include Canada, Norway, China, the United States, Holland and New Zealand.
 
Bolton's brave experiment
In the UK cameras were trialled in Bolton in 2001 [2] - cameras, recording images and sound, were fitted to ten taxis for six weeks. The trial was hailed a success because no incidents occurred. No control group was used. No independent study was produced. It was simply hailed a success by Bolton Council, the taxi drivers and the security industry firms behind the trial [3]. One of the reasons given for driver support was the hope that it would lead to cheaper insurance premiums [4]. In 2002 the then MP for Bolton South East, Dr Brian Iddon raised the trial in the House of Commons [5], calling it a "brave experiment" and asking Home Office Minister John Denham whether he agreed it should be spread throughout the country. And so Bolton became the poster city for taxi CCTV in the UK.

On the back of the Bolton success myth, Chubb, the company whose CabWatch system had been used, touted their wares to Leicester and Cambridge City Councils who ran their own trials. As with Bolton, Chubb's system relayed sound and images to a remote video response centre. Over the next few years a string of UK councils began considering cameras as a condition of license for taxis and private hire vehicles.

It is now commonplace for taxis to be equipped with CCTV cameras throughout the UK.
 
Southampton Court Challenge
In the UK Parliament in July 2007 [6] it was reported that the Southampton Safe City Partnership were sponsoring CCTV in taxi cabs. In November 2010 a driver, Keith May, who runs taxi firm K & K Hire, began legal action in the Southampton Magistrates' Court against the City Council's imposition of a condition requiring the installation of a taxi camera in one of his licensed hackney carriages. In April 2011 the court found in May's favour [7]. Southampton City Council are now appealing that decision [8]. A month after the court decision, taxi drivers held a demo in Southampton [9] to protest against the council's compulsory camera requirement. But before defenders of passengers' freedoms get too excited about the Southampton taxi drivers' stand, it is worth listening to a recent edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme 'You and Yours' [10], on which May clarified his position. May said:
I'm not against CCTV, I'm not against CCTV at all. I'm against the conditions that this council, Southampton Council Licensing Office has imposed on us. [...] The problem we've got in Southampton is that the CCTV operates in a way that it is on 24/7, you can never turn it off, the driver's got not control of it whatsoever, so every single passenger that gets in a licensed vehicle in Southampton - their conversation's being recorded no matter whether they've done anything wrong or not. [...] What about, the taxi drivers in Southampton, private hires and taxis, majority of those vehicles gets used privately as well. The drivers own those vehicles, [?], what happens when they're taking their children down to the beach with their wife on a weekend. Why should that conversation be getting recorded?
In other words May is saying that in his view surveilling passengers is okay as long as the driver has control over it, but surveilling a taxi driver's family is wrong. And it is worth mentioning that the court case challenged the cameras as a licensing requirement, not the right or wrong of the cameras themselves. At time of writing the judgment is not publicly available.
 
It's all right we won't look at the footage, honest
The response from Southampton City Council is similar to the response from licensing authorities throughout the UK and across the globe - passengers have nothing to worry about because the sound and images are encrypted and no-one's going to access them unless there's an incident. The kit being used is an example of what is often called privacy by design (PbD) or a privacy enhancing technology (PET). Aside from the fact that encryption is not as secure as many would have us believe, surely there is more at stake here? We shall return to privacy by design below.
To understand how we got to this point let's travel back to the 1990s and look at how the taxi CCTV craze first began.
 
Perth goes on camera
As stated above it was in Australia that taxi compulsory CCTV was first introduced. In Perth, following a number of attacks on taxi drivers, a safety summit was held in February 1996. According to a report by Dr. Ian Radbone of the University of South Australia [11] a number of solutions were discussed and: "While the installation of a camera was not necessarily considered the most effective option, it was broadly supported because of its immediate feasibility and non-intrusiveness."
In the 1990s the Perth cameras did not record sound.

Radbone's February 1998 report states:

The cameras have been compulsory for two months. What's the evidence of effectiveness so far? The TIB [Taxi Industry Board] data base has recorded a drop in reported incidents but the numbers are too small to be statistically significant at this stage.

A November 2000 report by the Australian Institute of Criminology, entitled 'Preventing Assaults on Taxi Drivers in Australia' [12] states:

Solid state digital technology was chosen for Perth taxis where cameras have been mandatory since December 1997; these resulted in a 60 per cent reduction in attacks on drivers within a year after introduction (Pflaum 1999).

Note that the 60 percent reduction figure is cited as coming from one "Pflaum" in 1999. Upon closer investigation it transpires that Pflaum is a taxi driver in Germany who, in 1999, wrote an article [13] for a German Taxi Journal. In this article he gave no source or background to the 60 percent figure. Pflaum wrote:

In Perth, Australia, where camera surveillance was made mandatory for taxicabs, attacks against cab drivers and other major troubles were reduced by 60% one year after the introduction.
If the cameras in Perth really were such a magic bullet one has to wonder why earlier this year it was announced that the Western Australian government is set to upgrade these cameras.
 
The Upgrade cycle
In January 2011 it was announced that $8 million (Australian dollars) would be spent to upgrade the cameras in Perth's taxi fleet and for the first time record sound as well as images. In addition four cameras will now be fitted to each taxi, two inside and two outside. The new cameras will record continuously. The Western Australian Taxi Camera Surveillance Unit (TCSU) standard 2011 [14] states:
The TCSU shall include at least two internally mounted cameras and two externally mounted cameras.

The reason given by the Government of Western Australia Department of Transport [15] for the camera upgrades is that the cameras are "generally technologically outdated" and they state:

As a result, when a crime occurs inside or outside a taxi, these existing models often do not provide the evidence necessary to prosecute the offender. A new standard is urgently needed to help make the taxi industry a safe working environment for taxi drivers and a safe transport service for passengers.
When it is time to upgrade suddenly no mention is made of magical decreases in crime, instead action must be taken, we are told, to make taxis a safe place.
 
Alternatives to cameras - partitions
One alternative to cameras is the use of a partition between the driver and the passengers. Such partitions have long been a feature of the iconic London black taxi or Hackney Carriage.

One female driver told Taxi Today Monthly in 2009 [16]:

I have always driven a London Taxi because I value the security and safety it provides. The central partition is crucial to the job as it provides both added peace of mind and protection.
('Safety first for female drivers', Taxi Today Monthly, January 2009)

Partitions can also be fitted to other vehicle types and are sometimes known as safety screens or safety shields.

A 1999 report 'The Effectiveness of Taxi Partitions: The Baltimore Case' [17], prepared for The Southeastern Transportation Center University of Tennessee Knoxville found:

Thus far it has been determined that shields in Baltimore taxis significantly reduce assaults on taxi drivers. Furthermore, shields are the primary reason for reduced assaults compared to other explanations such as reduced crime, drug arrests, and population.

The shield study looked at shield implementation in Baltimore from 1991 to 1997 and included a control study. Compare this study protocol to that of the Bolton camera study mentioned above.

Many studies report that in the United States and other countries there is a perception amongst drivers that safety partitions reduce tips by isolating the driver from the passenger and presenting a physical barrier to communication. In the UK however the partition has been viewed as a welcome addition by drivers and passengers alike. A 1970 Home Office report of the 'Departmental Committee on the London taxicab trade' [18] found:

A large proportion of fares appreciate the privacy from the driver and the fact that they cannot be inflicted with his unwanted conversation.
(p197, 'Report of the Departmental Committee on the London taxicab trade', Home Office, 1970)

More alternatives to cameras
A January 2007 report of the Taxicab Advisory Group Committee on Driver Safety to the Mayor of the City of Atlanta, Georgia [19] looked at the various alternatives to cameras. It references the comments of one of the authors of the Baltimore partition study, Dr John R. Stone who gave a speech to a 'Taxi Driver Security' conference in Montreal in 1996 [20].

Stone explained that in 1990 following the murder of a taxi driver, the Montreal Taxi Bureau formed a Round Table group which implemented a number of safety measures including: flashing rear emergency lights and priority for 911 taxi calls, driver training and driver reports of community emergencies, media coverage and rewards for identifying taxi driver assailants, spot police inspections of taxis and passengers, a training video on tips for taxi driver safety.

Stone told the conference that:

Between 1990 and 1995 as a result of Round Table efforts, the number of MUC [Montreal Urban Community] taxi robberies fell dramatically by 60% from 187 annual armed robberies to 76. Furthermore, relations between taxi drivers, the police, and the community improved.

Driving force
So why, despite the alternatives that have less impact on the freedoms of passengers and drivers, have so many cities opted for cameras?

A 2009 report of the Canadian 'Surveillance Camera Awareness Network (SCAN)' [21] looked at the introduction of cameras in taxis in Ottawa, Canada. The report states:

Cab camera companies are entrepreneurial and in addition to cameras must sell the very idea of surveillance. This may require making claims regarding the deterrent effect of cab cameras, as well as the value of the footage in prosecuting crimes.
(p7 'Camera Surveillance in Ottawa Taxicab', 'A Report on Camera Surveillance in Canada Part Two', 2009)

The SCAN report points out that independent studies that support camera companies claims are scarce, and that:

Our two reports for the Surveillance Camera Awareness Network demonstrate that cameras and other new surveillance measures tend to be implemented without appropriate consultation or adequate independent evaluation, which is demonstrated by the case of cab camera implementation in Ottawa.
(p93 'Conclusion', 'A Report on Camera Surveillance in Canada Part Two', 2009)
Surely in the face of the shortage of independent studies supporting the camera companies' claims and the multitude of alternatives that have less impact on the freedoms of drivers and passengers this is an easy win for privacy and data protection commissioners around the world? Maybe, but only to a point.
 
Weakness of privacy laws
In New Zealand earlier this year the Transport Agency (NZTA) sought guidance [22] from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) following the introduction of compulsory camera Rule [23] for all taxis in major population areas. The NZTA published a letter which states:
The OPC says it has serious concerns about the privacy implications of audio recording in taxis and plans to keep a watching brief on any moves by taxi organisations to introduce it. In addition the OPC asks that any taxi organisation planning to introduce audio recordings notify the Office of the plans so that it can monitor its use by the industry.
(Audio recording of passengers in taxis (Letter from the NZTA) - 30/6/2011)

In Canada the 2003/4 Annual Report [24] of the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) under "issues the OIPC has provided advice or comments on over the past year" states:

The Motor Carrier Commission's proposal to place digital videocameras in taxi cabs in the Lower Mainland (the Information and Privacy Commissioner stated that he did not support the proposal for privacy reasons)

On 16th November 2011 a statement from the Data Commissioner of Ireland was read on a talk radio show [25] which said they had concerns "about the proportionality and justification for installing CCTV cameras in taxis, taking account of the legitimate privacy expectations of vehicle users".

Perhaps the strongest response to taxi cameras has come from Nevada in the United States, where in 2004 the Nevada Taxi Cab Authority introduced a regulation requiring cameras in taxis. The Taxi Cab Authority were also considering the activation of the recording systems in the event of a G-force event (a G-force event is that which alters the vehicle's inertia to such a degree that a trigger is activated) .

When the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the regulation it was not adopted pending review. In October 2005 the Attorney General of Nevada issued an opinion [26] on the constitutional implications of recording images and sound using taxi cameras. The twelve page opinion explores whether taxi cameras that record sound and images are a breach of United States Fourth Amendment. The Attorney General concludes:

The adoption of revised regulations which limit any video and audio recording of the camera to (1) the entry and exit of the passenger, (2) activation, when the equipment is activated by a panic button, and (3) minimal recording in the event of a G-force event, would be a limited governmental intrusion which would likely be found by a court to not violate the passengers Fourth Amendment privacy rights.

In September 2006 a revised regulation [27] was adopted [28] that took into account the Attorney General's recommendations. The regulation still requires the compulsory introduction of taxi cameras but the camera is only activated as passengers get in or out of the taxi and when a panic button is activated by the driver. When the camera is activated, it can record still images or video and may record sound but not as a compulsory requirement.

In the UK campaign group Big Brother Watch has launched a complaint [29] with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) with regard to the Oxford taxi CCTV scheme. To date the ICO has not taken a strong stand on surveillance issues as the Data Protection Act that supposedly governs camera surveillance in the UK is riddled with exemptions when freedoms are removed for the stated purpose of "crime prevention", regardless of whether any evidence exists to prove the surveillance works.

The campaign group Justice in their recent report 'Freedom from Suspicion' [30] point out that it was an English Common Law principle, laid out in Lord Camden's speech in the 1705 judgment in Entick v Carrington, upholding the rights of property owners against unlawful searches by the executive that became the basis for the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. The English Common Law still exists but alas no-one seems to remember it.

One confusion for privacy commissioners has been the fact that recordings from taxi cameras are encrypted and only accessed by law enforcement or council officials when an incident occurs. This is the so-called "principle" of privacy by design which some commissioners have positively encouraged.
 
Privacy by design
In her book 'Privacy by Design ? take the challenge' [31] the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, Dr Ann Cavoukian writes:
The use of this type of privacy-enhancing technology would thus allow for video surveillance to be conducted without the usual concerns associated with this type of surveillance. For the great majority of the surveillance footage, there would be absolutely no access or viewing of any personally identifiable information, and no unauthorized activities, such as viewing out of curiosity or "leering," would be possible. Therefore, this privacy-enhancing technology would enable both the use of video surveillance cameras and privacy to co-exist, side by side - without forfeiting one for the other: positive-sum, not zero-sum.

Data Protection expert Chris Pounder of Amberhawk Training [32] sums up privacy by design as follows:

Even though the process is protective of privacy one has arrived at a position that can be rewritten in a more familiar guise: "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

Societal values beyond privacy
Taxi cameras are part of a growing "just in case" mentality that treats everyone as suspects. This issue goes beyond privacy laws or the lack thereof. The principle of innocent until proven guilty is an important cornerstone of our society and a healthy society depends on the law-abiding majority being respected and trusted as they go about their daily lives.

All around us the surveillance state is growing almost invisibly - unchecked by politicians and lawmakers who either want control or believe surveillance is universally loved, and driven by a surveillance industrial complex, ready to turn every social ill into a money making scheme. Almost every part of our society is tainted by an obsessive focus on crime and the security industry is all too willing to encourage the development of a crime-based economy.

Those that still cherish freedom must speak out. Just be careful what you say if you're in the back of a taxi.

Endnotes:

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Apeldoorn, 24-12-2011 •  In de afgelopen week heeft de politie in Apeldoorn extra ingezet op het innen van openstaande boetes en vonnissen. Hierbij is ook een ANPR-voertuig ingezet, die kentekenplaten scant. In totaal is voor ruim 7.000 euro aan boetes geïnd. De ANPR-auto is zowel ingezet op wegen binnen Apeldoorn, als op de snelweg A1. Er zijn bijna 13.000 kentekens gescand. In totaal hebben 21 mensen openstaande boetes betaald, met een totaalbedrag van 7230 euro. Hiermee voorkwamen mensen dat hun auto in beslag genomen werd, of zij zelf ingesloten werden. Wat men over het algemeen vlak voor de feestdagen zeker niet wil. Wanbetalers die niet betalen of zich niet melden, worden actief door de politie opgespoord. De politie organiseert regelmatig soortgelijke acties om openstaande vonnissen te innen.
 
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ZWOLLE - De politie mag alle kentekens straks vier weken bewaren. Nu moeten de nummerplaten die niet gesignaleerd staan in de computersystemen van de politie nog direct vernietigd worden.
De privacywetgeving staat langer bewaren en eventueel achteraf nog gebruiken niet toe. Privacywaakhond CBPoordeelde daar een kleine twee jaar geleden over. Dat besluit is politie en Justitie een doorn in het oog. Minister Opstelten van Veiligheid en Justitie doet daar nu wat aan; dat was in het Regeerakkoord al aangekondigd. Het systeem van de automatische nummerplaatherkenning is voor de politie een bruikbaar hulpmiddel in de strijd tegen criminelen. Kentekens van alle passerende voertuigen worden immers vastgelegd in de computer; het gaat om duizenden voertuigen per dag. Staat een passerend voertuig gesignaleerd als gestolen of de eigenaar gesignaleerd als verdachte, gaan de alarmbellen op het politiebureau rinkelen en kan de politie in actie komen. Neveneffect van die aanpak is dat de politie kan achterhalen welk voertuig - en bestuurder/eigenaar - in de buurt van de betreffende camera was op welk tijdstip. Die informatie kan erg bruikbaar zijn voor opsporing van verdachten of om zaken te voorzien van ondersteunend bewijs. Ook kunnen reisbewegingen van verdachten worden vastgelegd. Dat mag nu nog niet, maar het bewaren en gebruiken van die informatie mag straks dus wel gedurende vier weken. De gegevens mogen enkel gebruikt worden voor ernstige misdrijven en aanhouding van voortluchtigen of veroordeelden. Het ANPR-camerasysteem werd in 2008 geïntroduceerd, de A28 bij Zwolle had de primeur. Inmiddels hangen er op een kleine dertig plekken in Nederland kentekencamera's. Daarnaast beschikken de verschillende politiekorpsen ook nog eens over vele tientallen mobiele ANPR-camera's.
 
 
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http://www.at-aandrijftechniek.nl/productnieuws/besturingen/4980/simpel-identificatiesysteem-voor-bussystemen.html
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