White taxis will no longer be required to have CCTV installed thanks to a pre-election deal between the Government and the taxi association.

All 300 white taxis in Malta and Gozo were supposed to have surveillance cameras fitted as part of reforms introduced in 2010 by the pre­vious administration.

“Transport Malta believes that CCTV cameras should not be compulsory owing to the technical and privacy issues they presented,” a Transport Ministry spokeswoman said.

She confirmed that this was agreed with Taxi Licensed White Amalgamated prior to the March 9 election.

CCTV linked to Transport Malta’s control room was intended to be a safety measure for drivers and passengers.

Taxis do not need cameras

Automatic recording was supposed to be triggered by a change of the taximeter’s operating system, opening doors or activating the emergency buttons.

Addressing privacy fears in 2010, then transport minister Austin Gatt said that the footage would only be accessible to police in the event of a crime.

Data Protection Commissioner Joseph Ebejer said his office had no role in the decision to scrap CCTV. He added that he had no objections to surveillance equipment in taxis, provided its recordings were used in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

Last January, Transport Malta submitted its Intelligent Transport System action plan (2013-2017) as required by EU Directive 2010/40, which included installing CCTV in all white taxis.

The CCTV formed part of an integrated system that included a meter capable of printing receipts, a tracking device, emergency buttons and a two-way communications system.

CCTV cameras should not be compulsory owing to the technical and privacy issues

All taxis were still obliged to have the meters and tracking devices installed, the Transport Ministry said, although it could not say when the process would be completed and refused to comment on how easy it would be to activate the system without CCTV.

Installations of the integrated system were suspended last November after several drivers complained the equipment was prematurely flattening their batteries.

Some three years after the reforms came into force, just 166 out of 300 taxis had been fitted with the new system, Alberta said.

Transport Malta is supposed to be fully financing the upgrade through a grant of €3,316 to owners of taxis that existed before November 1, 2010.

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