Louis man who drove for both Uber and Lyft has been suspended from both companies for livestreaming passengers on Twitch without their consent. Anonymous viewers online often commented on riders' conversations and left sexual or offensive comments about female passengers' bodies.
The driver, 32-year-old Jason Gargac, streamed his videos on Twitch under the username "JustSmurf", according to the Post-Dispatch, but his channel no longer contains videos.
He said that at first he had informed passengers that he was recording them, but the videos felt "fake" and "produced". Missouri, the state in which these events took place, does not label this act as illegal due to their adherence to "one-party consent". If a passenger would notice the camera, Gargac would tell them he was filming for safety reasons instead of letting them know they were being live-streamed.
According to the Post-Dispatch, Gargac displayed a small sticker on the back passenger window informing passengers that his vehicle was "equipped with audio and visual recording devices" for security purposes.
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Passengers had no idea they were being recorded and when asked by the newspaper, some said that they wouldn't have given permission had they known.
"I try to capture the natural interactions between myself and the passengers - what a Lyft and Uber ride actually is", Gargac told the Post-Dispatch. But Twitch's community guidelines expressly prohibit content that violates a person's privacy. Gargac also said he earned about $3,500 over the past five months from viewer subscriptions, donations and tips collected on Twitch. Since these actions need to be taken preemptively, Gargac is not guaranteed to have the ultimate control. People were sometimes named in the videos, while homes were also shown. The company notes on its help page that some cities and states may require drivers to disclose the presence of recording devices while others may bar recording devices. Like other Uber and Lyft drivers who stream their passengers' journeys on Twitch's In Real Life section, he initially informed customers about the livestreams.
Klieman says in a one-party consent state that makes it legal to disseminate and even monetize secret recordings of people.
"I think it's a larger question about privacy and technology for society, what we do when the norms around a particular technology are violated", Rosenblat said.