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Smile, You're On Cabbie Camera

By aaroncynic in News on Apr 23, 2010 6:00PM

Photo by nssf04
Again with the cameras. Your odds of ending up on Taxicab Confessions might get better in Chicago. The city plans to install tiny cameras inside taxis in the hope of deterring violent crime directed towards drivers. The cameras would photograph riders as they hop in and out of the vehicle. Presently the Tribune estimates around 1,000 cameras already keep an eye on passengers. Taxi companies heralded the move, especially given the recent uptick in violent incidents against drivers. A survey by the University of Illinois at Chicago found that crimes against cab drivers have increased in Chicago and across parts of the country. Selvin Quire, a driver for 30 years told the Tribune that questionable passengers “see the camera, and they hold back.”

Even though Chicago seems to be leading the charge into a modern day surveillance state, privacy and civil liberties advocates don’t feel terribly threatened by cab cameras. Given that taxi companies are a private business, they have a right to install cameras on their property. Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the Illinois ACLU, said “A private company can engage to help with safety or loss of protection. The key is that they notify their customers that it's taking place."