Is it okay for taxi drivers to put their passengers on YouTube?

This may come as a shock, but I must admit that on occasion, I’ve not only drunk alcohol, but I may even have talked nonsense to the taxi driver on the way home.

But what I’ve never anticipated was that my ramblings might be recorded, and uploaded to YouTube for the world to enjoy.  

There is, however, a Sydney taxi driver doing precisely that.

Adrian Neylan writes the very entertaining Cablog. It’s been a guilty pleasure for some time now. I strongly recommend it. If you ever wondered about the crap that taxi drivers go through, this showcases it.

He wrote a good piece last week for instance on how the owners of iPhones are the most generous when it comes to paying rewards for the return of their equipment.

He talks about the blog in an interview with social media evangelist David Meerman Scott:

However, one of the other things he occasionally does is record what his passengers have to say. And uploads it to his YouTube channel.

As the most recent (and admittedly very entertaining) example demonstrates, although you can only hear the woman’s voice, anyone who knows her would probably realise who it was. There’s no evidence that she was asked for permission to use the recording – and if she had granted it, I’m not sure she was in a fit state to give informed consent. As Adrian works at night, I suspect he’s asleep right now, but I have emailed him to ask the question.


And that’s where an interesting question of privacy comes in. These people are, after all, using a form of public transport. I seem to remember that some cabs even have a sign warning that passengers may be recorded.

But on the other hand, if this was TV rather than YouTube, different standards would apply. ABC regulations state for instance: “The rights to privacy of individuals should be respected in all ABC content. However, in order to provide information which relates to a person’s performance of public duties or about other matters of public interest, intrusions upon privacy may, in some circumstances, be justified.”

There certainly doesn’t seem to be much in the way of taxi regulations to cover this, although I’ve asked the NSW Government’s Transport & Infrastructure department for their views.

A big part of me thinks that if you behave like a drunken idiot then you deserve a little new media exposure. But where do you draw the line?

Update: Adrian points me towards a debate on this issue that took place on a comment thread on Cablog last month. In that he tells a commenter:

“I acknowledge your privacy concern which relates to the ongoing legal/media debate over balancing privacy rights with freedom of expression – in my case the creation of non-fiction narratives of passenger encounters.

“That these encounters occur in a public vehicle carrying prominent surveillance warnings affords me some latitude, I believe. And equally, the provision of anonymity to my passengers recognises their expectation of privacy. Thus I’m confident that that balance is about right.”

Tim Burrowes


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