Whitehorse Daily Star

Audio recordings in taxis may become compulsory

The city is moving forward with making audio recordings mandatory in taxi cabs.

By Chuck Tobin on December 7, 2022

The city is moving forward with making audio recordings mandatory in taxi cabs.

Video recordings are already mandatory, but audio is not.

The administrative report to council on Monday notes that a legal review has confirmed the city is empowered to enact bylaws for the safety, health, welfare and protection of people relating to the taxi business.

The city could legally require audio recording in taxis under the bylaw that would withstand potential court challenges related to the invasion of privacy.

The administrative report prepared for council says there is little precedent for mandatory audio in Canada.

Currently, it says, Regina is the only jurisdiction that mandates audio recordings in taxis.

However, a majority of the existing camera systems installed in vehicles for hire, including those here in the city, possess audio recording capabilities.

The administrative report says as best practice, the city should consider protocols such as:

Informing the public that video surveillance is taking place in the taxi;

Store recorded images with limited access and delete them when they’re no longer required for business purposes;

Educate equipment operators on the obligation to protect the privacy of individuals;

Periodically re-evaluate the need for audio surveillance.

The administrative report says the provisions are easily implemented and can be monitored through the vehicle inspection processes.

Additional provisions under the vehicle for hire bylaw make it an offence for any person to temporarily shut off, delete or tamper with recordings and for an unauthorized person to view security camera footage.

Under the bylaw, the RCMP, bylaw officers and the owners of taxi companies are the only people who can view camera footage.

Access to security footage by company owners is strictly for the purposes of resolving customer complaints, says the administrative report.

There was some concern expressed Monday that the fines under the vehicle for hire bylaw are too low to be a disincentive.

Taxi companies are required to keep their recordings for seven days.

The initial fine for failing to install or maintain a functioning security camera is $100 for the first offence, $250 for the second and $2,500 for the third offence.

The fine for not recording images and audio at all times a passenger is in the vehicle is $2,500.

Providing access to recordings by unauthorized individuals also carries a fine of $2,500, as does failing to hardwire the security camera into the taxi.

Council is scheduled to vote next Monday on whether to bring forward a bylaw to amend the vehicle for hire bylaw.

Comments (17)

Up 0 Down 0

Charlie's Aunt on Dec 13, 2022 at 4:53 pm

What the heck has happened to Whitehorse? Gone are the days when a bunch of friends could go to Whitehorse Inn and walk around the corner to Black or Yellow office at closing time, knowing they could cab home safely. Never were there problems with the drivers, a few passengers caused problems, but now it seems as though a cab ride is a risky business for all.

Up 5 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Dec 12, 2022 at 4:24 pm

Rules and regulations are only as effective as the level of enforcement. For one of the most common situations that happens, I think some ground rules should be clear and informative in what constitutes a violation...and by whom,
"Hi I really need to get home, but I don't have any money - can we work something out?" Let your imagaination wander, it happens a lot and then the cab driver is the one who has to deal with any consequences. Clear goals and objectives should precede what this audio gathering investment is intended to achieve and the regulations and policies should focus on that.

Up 7 Down 2

Thought Disordered People! on Dec 12, 2022 at 3:11 pm

Dear Politico on Dec 11, 2022 at 7:13 pm:

Shhh… Your comment is racial profiling at its best… Think before you type cause we are all about the categories now - There is no more individual thought. You are a member of your particular caste!

Can we get you some more socialist pablum to tide you over?

Up 8 Down 2

CJ2 on Dec 12, 2022 at 12:36 pm

@Politico, that's nonsense. "If you really cared, you'd give up your right not to be surveilled". Since when did aberrant behaviour become the standard for how the average citizen will be treated.

Up 7 Down 9

Politico on Dec 11, 2022 at 7:13 pm

Can tell none of the posters here give a damn about victims of assault in a taxi!

Up 7 Down 4

CJ2 on Dec 10, 2022 at 11:37 pm

Wow. This should go well. Finding out that only one (or two) other places in Canada are doing this was probably just a red flag to city council. "We're leaders in surveillance of our citizens!"

Where are our officials, who are supposed to be protecting our rights? Shame on the privacy commissioner. Virtually weeks after they criticize schools for surveillance videos in schools, they give the go ahead to the City of Whitehorse to coerce taxi companies into operating surveillance equipment. The City of Whitehorse, which, as someone has already pointed out, is exempt from the freedom of information act. Does anyone think it's a coincidence that the report on surveillance in schools was met with a big yawn, and shortly after is followed with this?

And who uses taxis? The majority are not the privileged and powerful of this town. Probably most of the users are people who can't manage their lives within the bounds of the limited public transit system this city likes to complain about having to pay for.

This is truly shocking. You'd think the media would jump on it, but probably some lame rationale full of the latest buzz words acted as a tranquillizer on any concerns they might have felt about our creep towards...things that were unacceptable when our constitution was written.

There is not a level of government in the Yukon capable of managing this kind of surveillance without letting it get out of hand and abused. The privacy commissioner is utterly useless. Can't stop something they don't approve of, approves something that should have been utterly unacceptable. It's wrong on so many levels. From the implicit violation on the privacy of the passenger who needs a taxi, to the increased responsibility for the taxi companies to install and manage the system, to the fact that the City of Whitehorse can barely manage to keep a major roadway plowed, never mind deal with the intricacies of a surveillance system that just about everywhere else in Canada has avoided -- shame on everyone involved with moving this proposal into position. Fire the privacy commissioner. Get rid of the position. It's a joke.

Up 12 Down 5

bonanzajoe on Dec 8, 2022 at 7:56 pm

@Thomas Brewer on Dec 7, 2022: Sorry, can't do that - racism and a couple other things I can't mention because of the new speech laws.

Up 13 Down 5

Calvin and Hobbes on Dec 8, 2022 at 5:39 pm

Dear Josey Wales on Dec 7, 2022 at 2:47 pm:

I can pretty much guarantee you that there was child porn in the 7th century. Churches have been around for well over 2000 years.

Up 15 Down 1

Evan on Dec 8, 2022 at 2:28 pm

haha. I think they need to do better research. Whoever did their research failed hard. Saskatoon also has mandatory audio/video recording inside the taxis too, not just Regina. It's funny how they have steep fines and that they've set a minimum recording range plus hardwired only. There's better options if they were to look a little deeper.

Up 18 Down 8

just here taking up space on Dec 8, 2022 at 8:07 am

"The fine for not recording images and audio at all times a passenger is in the vehicle is $2,500"

Welcome to china folks. With the current state of voice and facial recognition detailed records of your every move are being uploaded into databases for later perusal by whomever happens to be in power at some future point, to be used as deemed necessary. Most likely your social credit score will be updated and benefits restricted or granted accordingly.

And just as a btw, has there been a single new "law" formulated in the last decade that wasn't "for your SAFETY" ? This argument "need for safety" justifies pretty much every new law placed on the books and yet the real reasons for making small businesses so difficult to run are mostly so that the biggest enterprises force the little guys off the street.

It's quite clever how it works actually. Big pharma, or Big Cab or whatever the business may be, supports the current leadership in some creative way or other and lobbies for exciting new laws and restrictions, knowing full well that while they can afford compliance, the smaller businesses cannot and will cease operations.

Mussolini called such affairs "fascism", the unholy union between state and business, and unfortunately, Canada is moving way too fast in this direction, mandating this and that and forcing more and more restrictions and difficulties on it's already struggling productive class. Inevitably this results in higher prices and shoddier service for the public because our choices are limited to one or two huge companies. In the meantime, politicians benefit by appearing to care deeply about joe bag of donuts and that is the main thing, it would appear.

Up 16 Down 2

Max Mack on Dec 7, 2022 at 9:49 pm

"The administrative report prepared for council says there is little precedent for mandatory audio in Canada."

Yet, council is plowing ahead anyway notwithstanding the obvious implications.
Under the banner of " safety, health, welfare and protection of people", governments can apparently create any rules they like.

Up 24 Down 5

bonanzajoe on Dec 7, 2022 at 7:59 pm

Language interpreters will also be necessary.

Up 19 Down 2

We need some relief on Dec 7, 2022 at 4:29 pm

Actually - The YEU should insist that all interactions between staff and management are recorded. All YEU members should record conversations with supervisors, management, and their Union reps. What a s**t show of abuse of processes these people perform as routinely as they change their underwear.

Up 27 Down 3

Thomas Brewer on Dec 7, 2022 at 3:52 pm

Maybe this would cut down on the drug dealing out of the taxis, especially if random units were pulled for investigation on a periodic basis.

Up 15 Down 6

Toe on Dec 7, 2022 at 3:49 pm

Anybody remember that guy who used to own them limo's he use too charge only 10 dollars a fair. Them old days plus taxis fair's started at 2.45 not this 4.50 bs.

Up 18 Down 8

Snowball on Dec 7, 2022 at 3:46 pm

Safety ya right - my way to track and spy on people. I guess you need to watch what you talk about well in a taxi now.

Up 18 Down 10

Josey Wales on Dec 7, 2022 at 2:47 pm

Should have audio recording with video in civic offices too.
We’d most certainly get a better reveal on the level of disdain held towards our citizens proper via the elites.
CoW is not even subject to freedom of information requests.
...in the rules they wrote, imagine🤯
At all costs.

Pass a bylaw and if the drivers cannot recite the umbrella agreement verbatim, the communist manifesto and the WEF mission statement...
then deem them non essential and move on.
Then hire a team of civic cab drivers, union wages plus plus of course.
Get mega diverse on the new crew (whites sans of course) and even have a few blind drivers...everyone is equal remember?

Oh yeah and to be extra safe in traffic, can we please drop the speed limit in town? If everyone just pushed their cars through traffic, less pollution, more time to react to someone staggering into traffic, folks could not text and push at the same time...nah...a few would do it.
This flying around town at near 40 kph is gonna get more folks killed.

Or...we can embrace the seventh century, no audio, no video, no gender reveal parties, no such thing as child porn...it’s approved...and just stay outta the cabs all together...ya know for safety.

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