Uber and Lyft drop driver for livestreaming passengers on Twitch

Uber and Lyft have suspended a driver following a report that he livestreamed passengers without their expressed cons...

Posted: Jul 23, 2018 11:44 AM
Updated: Jul 23, 2018 11:44 AM

Uber and Lyft have suspended a driver following a report that he livestreamed passengers without their expressed consent.

The driver filmed and live streamed his passengers and their interactions with him on Twitch, a service commonly used to stream video games, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch first reported.

The livestream occasionally revealed the passengers' full names and residences, as well as private conversations and intimate moments, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, an audience would comment on their appearances and conversations.

But here's the twist: It's completely legal, despite ethical questions raised regarding passengers' privacy.

That's because Missouri is what's called a "one-party consent" state, which only requires that one participant in a conversation be aware a recording is happening for it to be legal.

Regardless, the report has attracted enough attention that both ride-share companies deactivated the driver's accounts.

In a statement, an Uber spokesperson said the "troubling behavior in the videos" violated its community guidelines, and that the "driver's access to the app has been removed while we evaluate his partnership with Uber."

Alexandra LaManna, a spokesperson for Lyft, said, "The safety and comfort of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we have deactivated this driver."

The driver said it was for his security

CNN was unsuccessful in its attempts to reach the driver, who was identified by the Post-Dispatch as 32-year-old Jason Gargac.

Gargac gave an interview to the St. Louis newspaper, in which he said the cameras were there for his own security. He said the livestream was "secondary," and the cameras were for the "security that I feel knowing if something happens, immediately there can be a response versus hopefully you'll find my truck in a ditch three weeks later."

In footage reviewed by the Post-Dispatch, riders would climb into Gargac's vehicle, their faces illuminated by purple lights mounted above the backseats.

Their conversations and actions were streamed live to the Twitch platform, where viewers -- some of whom paid Gargac -- watched and commented. Some viewers paid a monthly subscription fee, the newspaper reported, while others donated money or gave tips.

If passengers did notice the little camera mounted on the windshield of Gargac's vehicle, the newspaper reported, he told them it was for his security. According to the Post-Dispatch, Gargac displayed a small sticker on the back passenger window informing passengers that his car was "equipped with audio and visual recording devices" for security purposes. "Consent given by entering vehicle," it said."

CNN investigation: 103 Uber drivers accused of sexual assault or abuse

But the paper notes Gargac appeared to contradict that statement in an interview, saying he started driving for Uber and Lyft with the purpose of hosting the livestream.

"I try to capture the natural interactions between myself and the passengers -- what a Lyft and Uber ride actually is," he told the newspaper.

Some of Gargac's passengers who were tracked down by the Post-Dispatch weren't happy when they were told about the livestream.

"I feel violated. I'm embarrassed," said one, who reportedly asked to not be identified. "We got in an Uber at 2 a.m. to be safe, and then I find out that, because of that, everything I said in that car is online and people are watching me. It makes me sick."

Reached for a response, Twitch wouldn't comment directly on Gargac. But the company did tell CNN its community guidelines "do not allow people to share content that invades others' privacy." If such a violation took place, the company would take action.

Videos that had been archived to Gargac's Twitch page were no longer on the website Saturday night.

Why it's legal

In an earlier statement to CNN, Lyft noted that its drivers are "required to follow applicable local laws and regulations, including with regard to the use of any recording device."

Uber also notes a similar policy on its website, which says their drivers are allowed to use video cameras to record riders for their own safety, so long as local regulations that may require riders' consent are followed.

And this is why Gargac appears to be in the clear, legally: Missouri law doesn't require Gargac to let his passengers in on the fact that they're being recorded. He does not need their consent to film them.

In Missouri and a number of other states, as long as one party knows about the recording -- the person doing the recording, for example -- it's perfectly legal. There are other two-party consent states, where two participants in a conversations are required to consent to being recorded.

But CNN legal analyst Page Pate acknowledges this is new territory for many states' laws concerning privacy and recording.

"Many of these laws that were drafted to deal with one-party consent were just made to deal with (audio) recording devices," Pate said, before there were webcams, and before cellphones had high-quality cameras.

"When these laws were drafted and enacted, I don't think any of these states could have envisioned what we have in this case, where you have livestreaming video," he said.

With video, he added, it's not just about what people are recorded saying; there's the added layer of having their image and actions recorded as well.

It's possible that Gargac's passengers could have some legal recourse, Pate said, but their cases would have to rely on the fact that Gargac was not just recording, but also livestreaming, and whether they had a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the backseat of an Uber or Lyft.

"It's a fact-by-fact case," Pate said, "and I don't think there have been any court decisions to deal with this particular issue."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1097128

Reported Deaths: 17438
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1437882222
Lake712531225
Allen65537867
Hamilton50147482
St. Joseph48760639
Elkhart39461538
Vanderburgh34221495
Tippecanoe30237271
Johnson27179463
Hendricks25845379
Porter25014381
Madison20656444
Clark19898275
Vigo18764308
LaPorte16857260
Delaware16425291
Howard16408311
Monroe16379217
Kosciusko13936163
Hancock12841185
Bartholomew12686188
Warrick11995189
Wayne11879265
Floyd11869225
Grant11701235
Morgan10252188
Boone9675120
Noble9069121
Henry9002165
Marshall8907146
Dearborn881799
Dubois8710139
Shelby8054128
Cass8014127
Lawrence7922182
DeKalb7591106
Huntington7448108
Jackson743893
Gibson7002118
Montgomery6910123
Harrison685296
Knox6827113
Steuben654186
Miami6477107
Whitley642260
Putnam631982
Clinton618976
Wabash6060108
Jasper601791
Jefferson5689103
Ripley549192
Adams532381
Daviess5003116
Scott480378
Wells471799
White468767
Greene461799
Clay457462
Decatur4529109
Jennings439666
Fayette435694
LaGrange419290
Posey403244
Washington384154
Randolph3818107
Fountain368362
Spencer355846
Fulton355572
Starke348772
Owen346276
Sullivan344954
Orange324470
Jay318650
Rush298332
Carroll289438
Franklin286744
Perry283253
Vermillion280458
Tipton247365
Parke246330
Pike244144
Blackford218044
Pulaski205658
Newton179052
Brown171850
Crawford167929
Benton163217
Martin150819
Switzerland145112
Warren132216
Union117816
Ohio91413
Unassigned0585

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1683472

Reported Deaths: 26483
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1766331826
Cuyahoga1641462636
Hamilton1122641528
Montgomery794721387
Summit702171199
Lucas618431017
Butler55878803
Stark525841170
Lorain41058639
Warren35404412
Mahoning35095769
Lake31445493
Clermont30711362
Delaware26682182
Trumbull26664611
Licking26200335
Medina25291351
Fairfield24173287
Greene24051369
Clark21653387
Portage20709280
Richland20587336
Wood19626246
Allen18542320
Miami17031348
Columbiana16502331
Muskingum16416206
Wayne15432304
Tuscarawas14086357
Marion13054194
Erie12423198
Ashtabula12314225
Scioto12235182
Pickaway12070151
Ross11487223
Hancock11256173
Geauga10666174
Lawrence10504171
Belmont10259231
Huron9588155
Jefferson9462225
Union939175
Sandusky9068166
Seneca8692156
Knox8618169
Washington8613156
Athens827396
Darke8270179
Ashland7840147
Auglaize7741115
Shelby7337132
Defiance7210114
Crawford7082150
Brown7052115
Fulton7016111
Logan6857108
Mercer681697
Guernsey680283
Highland6615117
Madison641389
Clinton6388106
Williams628798
Preble6171139
Putnam6089120
Jackson572396
Champaign568286
Perry558879
Coshocton5552103
Ottawa553599
Morrow506464
Fayette483170
Hardin477899
Gallia462978
Pike459076
Van Wert454691
Adams4514109
Henry424976
Hocking401493
Holmes3939137
Wyandot367973
Carroll351578
Paulding319349
Meigs302457
Monroe231860
Noble216447
Morgan210138
Harrison205152
Vinton183937
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 31°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 34°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
37° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 34°
Decatur
Clear
37° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 31°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 36°
The warming trend is expected to continue through Thursday before cooler air returns to the Midwest.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events