It’s not always the passengers who deal with cab issues, but there are many cab drivers who have to face the wrath of cheats and abusive passengers. This problem is quite prevalent across countries, however, the taxi and private-hire car drivers in Singapore can now take a sigh of relief. That ’s because the drivers have been given the green light to insist on the use of inward-facing video cameras to protect themselves against fare evaders and abusive passengers.

The new rules, which kicked in on April 9, clarify the use of inward-facing video cameras against the backdrop of privacy laws. Under this rule, the passengers will be notified of the presence of such a camera through ways such as a booking confirmation or a “prominent notice” in the vehicle. Although the passengers who don’t want to be recorded will have to find another ride without such a device, said Singapore’s privacy watchdog, the Personal Data Protection Commission, in its new advisory guidelines on the in-vehicle recording by transport service providers.

Issuing new advisory guidelines, the Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) mentioned that drivers are strictly prohibited to upload videos from inward-facing cameras on social media. If they do so, the drivers would be flouting the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). Since 2015, the National Taxi Association had been lobbying for the use of inward-facing video cameras in taxis to tackle fare evasion, resolve fare disputes and deter any form of unruly behaviour against drivers.

The videos filmed are for the sole purpose of assisting relevant authorities, including the transport company, in official investigations, and these should be explained in the notice put up by the driver, the Personal Data Protection Commission said.

Talking about the rule, the Member of Parliament Ang Hin Kee, who is the executive adviser of both NTA and NPHVA said, “The cameras will provide a greater sense of security, especially for female drivers, and help resolve disputes.” The videos captured would aid investigations in cases where it is the driver’s word against the passenger’s and could also protect customers, said Mr Kee. “If private-hire or taxi driver knew that such a deterrent exists, they will also ensure that their service levels remain at a certain level,” explained Mr Ang.

The Personal Data Protection Commission said transport service providers must make “reasonable security arrangements” to protect personal data captured by in-vehicle recording devices or risk paying up to S$1 million (Rs 4,95,42,500) in fines.

Passengers can also request to view or to be given such recordings and ask how their personal data has or may have been used or disclosed by the organisation in the past year. But the commission’s guidelines allow companies not to provide access if the request is frivolous or vexatious, or if the burden or expense of providing access would be unreasonable – like if someone asks for all recordings of him in all taxis of an operator over a year, yet could not provide more specific information as to when he took the taxis.