SINGAPORE: Audio recording will soon be allowed for inward-facing recording devices inside public service vehicles such as taxis and private-hire cars.
This was announced by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Tuesday (Jul 2) as it outlined key changes to its guidelines for such devices.
The authority released a new set of guidelines last year setting out the regulations for these devices in public service vehicles.
Under the previous guidelines, public service vehicles could record video but not audio, in order to prevent commuters' conversations from being taped.
Explaining the decision to now allow audio recordings, LTA said this would help support investigations into inappropriate behaviour or disputes.
"Audio recordings will now be allowed in inward-facing (in-vehicle recording devices), in addition to video recordings," said the authority. "This makes the recordings more effective in supporting investigations into inappropriate or violent behaviour as well as fare-related disputes."
It cited a recent REACH poll of 1,000 people, which found that 9 out of 10 respondents felt these devices could help protect the interests of both commuters and drivers.
Of those who agreed that such devices should be allowed in taxis and private-hire cars, around 9 in 10 also felt that both audio and video recordings should be allowed.
Under the new changes, all buses will be exempt from LTA's in-vehicle recording device guidelines.
"This is because buses are similar to public spaces and are shared by many passengers," said LTA.
However the guidelines will still apply to taxis and private-hire cars as these are "smaller enclosed spaces", it added.
Buses will still be subject to guidelines from the Personal Data Protection Commission. Existing requirements will still govern the use of these devices.
The revised guidelines will come into effect on Jul 15.
SIGNS FOR PASSENGERS
Taxi and private-hire vehicle owners and drivers will have to get permission from LTA to install and use the devices before getting them installed at authorised centres.
These vehicles must also display signs to notify passengers of the installed camera.
For pre-booked rides, taxi companies and private-hire booking service operators must notify commuters in advance if a vehicle with such a device is despatched to them.
The use of recording devices in private-hire vehicles has come into the spotlight this year.
In January, Go-Jek driver Kamaruzzaman Abdul Latiff posted a video on Facebook showing a dispute between him and a passenger.
The video appeared to have been taken from his mounted mobile phone, and was shared thousands of times on social media.
A warning was subsequently issued to Mr Kamaruzzaman for unauthorised recording and disclosure of a clip of a passenger and himself.