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: 667262

Reported Deaths: 12737
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion913541660
Lake48729891
Allen36175646
Hamilton32489398
St. Joseph30361514
Elkhart25536420
Vanderburgh21343382
Tippecanoe20240205
Johnson16485363
Porter16077281
Hendricks15955302
Clark12079182
Madison11810323
Vigo11699234
Monroe10440164
Delaware9899179
LaPorte9838201
Howard9127203
Kosciusko8600111
Bartholomew7531147
Hancock7471134
Warrick7456153
Floyd7269173
Wayne6661192
Grant6465158
Boone618691
Morgan6135129
Dubois5942112
Dearborn551570
Cass5489100
Marshall5456105
Henry544395
Noble513878
Jackson465967
Shelby463591
Lawrence4197113
Gibson405585
Harrison404065
Clinton397653
Montgomery391984
DeKalb388278
Miami358463
Knox357886
Whitley352438
Huntington350877
Steuben340455
Putnam334660
Wabash333976
Ripley328062
Adams326349
Jasper319343
White298553
Jefferson296574
Daviess286196
Fayette272756
Decatur271688
Greene262680
Posey261732
Wells259175
Scott252150
LaGrange242670
Clay241644
Randolph226577
Spencer219630
Jennings216944
Washington213327
Sullivan203839
Fountain202842
Starke190051
Owen184254
Fulton179937
Jay178828
Carroll176919
Perry174136
Orange171451
Rush165722
Vermillion161543
Franklin160135
Tipton150041
Parke140216
Pike128633
Blackford120727
Pulaski107844
Newton96832
Brown95340
Crawford92613
Benton92513
Martin80314
Warren76014
Switzerland7568
Union67510
Ohio54211
Unassigned0427

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 978471

Reported Deaths: 17501
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1130371251
Cuyahoga969331881
Hamilton739231067
Montgomery47536923
Summit40720831
Butler35859531
Lucas35802720
Stark29602826
Warren22593275
Lorain22218424
Mahoning19586551
Lake18564332
Clermont18541205
Delaware16614121
Licking15096194
Fairfield14653188
Trumbull14437424
Greene13664221
Medina13531237
Clark12394256
Wood11670170
Portage11140172
Allen10822216
Richland10376188
Miami10065194
Muskingum8244117
Columbiana8174210
Pickaway8096111
Tuscarawas8083232
Marion8021127
Wayne7939199
Erie6972146
Ross6178132
Geauga6118142
Hancock6032121
Scioto600988
Ashtabula6002154
Lawrence527886
Union516741
Darke5052116
Belmont5000137
Huron4862108
Jefferson4843137
Sandusky4800112
Washington475596
Seneca4738111
Athens466449
Mercer459781
Auglaize456682
Shelby442679
Knox4056105
Putnam400593
Madison395755
Fulton383461
Ashland383083
Brown375252
Defiance374088
Crawford360198
Logan357673
Preble354187
Clinton342755
Highland328551
Ottawa325471
Williams303568
Jackson292046
Champaign291149
Guernsey288945
Perry271348
Fayette270143
Morrow261637
Henry247961
Hardin247359
Holmes244497
Coshocton241156
Van Wert230357
Gallia223938
Adams218339
Pike217328
Wyandot212450
Hocking195154
Carroll182143
Paulding161134
Meigs136031
Noble129233
Monroe117637
Morgan102220
Harrison100731
Vinton76713
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
61° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 61°
Angola
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 29°
Feels Like: 63°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 62°
Fort Wayne
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 61°
Lima
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 61°
Warmer, breezy on Monday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events