Lawmaker-cum-lawyer Vong Hin Fai, who heads the legislature’s 3rd Standing Committee, quoted government officials as saying Tuesday that the government “was considering” proposing – for its taxi bill currently under review – that the sound recorded in a taxi should be kept by the company holding the taxi’s operation licence.
Vong briefed the media after a closed-door meeting of his committee which is reviewing a government-initiated bill regulating the city’s taxi sector, the outline of which was passed during a plenary session in April.
Tuesday’s meeting was attended by government officials including Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosario and Transport Bureau (DSAT) Director Kelvin Lam Hin San.
The bill proposes a significant increase in the fines for various taxi violations, such as for refusing to pick up passengers and overcharging them.
The bill also proposes that only companies will be allowed to bid for a licence to operate common taxis, as opposed to the current situation in which common taxi-vehicle licences are granted to individual bidders. Common taxis – as opposed to special radio taxis – are colloquially known as “black taxis” (“hak dik” in Cantonese).
The bill also proposes that the Global Positioning System (GPS) and an audio recorder will need to be installed in every taxi. The government has said that the audio recorder aims to facilitate investigations by the authorities if arguments occur between the cabbie and passengers.
The focus of the meeting was about the handling of data recorded by the audio recorder and the involved risk of personal data protection.
According to Vong, some members of his committee said during yesterday’s meeting that the data stored in the audio recorder should not be regularly sent for safekeeping to the government entity overseeing the city’s transport. The lawmakers said that such data should be simply stored in the device – like the case of a flight recorder, or be kept by the company holding the taxi’s operating licence.
According to Vong, the lawmakers said that government officials should only have access to such data for an investigation if a taxi violation occurs.
The government officials attending yesterday’s meeting said the government “was considering” proposing that the data stored in the audio recorder should be kept by the company, according to Vong.
According to Vong, the officials also said that such devices should be owned by the company and that only the relevant entities involving the operation of the city’s taxi sector would have access to such data.