TAXI drivers who post footage from in-car security cameras set to be approved by the council online would lose their licence, they have been warned.
Councillors are set to give the final sign-off on Monday for cameras aimed at catching abusive and violent passengers.
Unaffiliated “street cars” are expected to embrace the devices, with more than 200 of the cabs operating in the Capital. However, fears have been raised over cabbies falling foul of data protection laws, with some calling for recorded video to be held by police or council officials.
All black cab and private hire drivers will be able to ask licensing authorities for the right to place cameras in their cars, although individual cabbies will have to meet the cost of equipment and installation.
Under guidelines drawn up by city licensing officials, drivers will have responsibility for keeping any filmed images secure, running the risk of a fine or having their cab licence suspended if they breach the Data Protection Act.
Drivers have been warned by the council not to place any images from their recordings on social media as “a condition of licence”.
Anyone found placing images online faces having their cab licence suspended, and would face a struggle to have the licence renewed after any suspension.
Any cabbie investigated by the Information Commissioner and found to have breached the Data Protection Act could face a fine of up to £500,000.
Tony Kenmuir, director of Central Taxis, said the cameras would be most popular with street car drivers, who do not take bookings and don’t have the support of a dispatch office.
He said: “The question has never been answered about whether the data should be collected by the police or the council, and who would pay for that.
“For me, we would be prepared to manage that as a company and follow any guidelines we were given for the collection and destruction of the data, but I’ve always been of the view that it should be in the hands of the police or the council.”
Philip Capaldi, a veteran Edinburgh cabbie with 32 years’ experience in the trade, said: “If it was in my cab it would only ever be used if the police needed to view evidence.”
Councillor Gavin Barrie, convener of the regulatory committee, said: “Any footage taken would be held by the taxi operators under the terms of the Data Protection Act. It cannot be made public and would only be reviewed by the council, Police Scotland or the Cab Inspector in the event of an alleged incident.
“If anything was released into the public domain, that would become the subject of a report to the committee. I would suggest that the committee would take an extremely dim view of it.”