Uber driver fired after he livestreamed passengers without consent
July 24, 2018 01:10 pm
Uber and Lyft said Monday they had fired a driver who livestreamed hours of his passengers’ rides without their knowledge or consent, making money off the ride-hailing apps as well as the Twitch live streams.
The decision followed a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Jason Gargac, a U.S. Army Veteran, had set up purple lights and a pair of cameras that broadcast a live stream of passengers to viewers on Twitch.
The Amazon-owned service competes with YouTube by offering viewers 2 million streams of users playing “Call of Duty” or “Fortnite” or painting, wood working or other activities.
Gargac made $150 to $300 nightly from his ride-sharing jobs, he told the newspaper. Gargac also said he earned about $3,500 over the past five months from viewer subscriptions, donations and tips collected on Twitch.
But passengers did not know Gargac was streaming video from inside his black Chevrolet Silverado, unknowingly becoming content on a social video service. It’s the latest revelation of how streaming technology from a smartphone can publicize everyday activities – most recently seen in a wave of racist incidents caught on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Only in this case, the people filmed did not know they were on camera.
“The troubling behavior in the videos is not in line with our Community Guidelines. We have ended our partnership with this driver,” Uber said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Lyft also severed ties with Gargac. “The safety and comfort of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we have deactivated this driver,” Lyft spokesperson Alexandra LaManna said.
Twitch said it had suspended his account. The service said it does not allow people to share content that invades others’ privacy and takes actions when the person whose privacy was invaded, we would take action under our Community Guidelines to remove the content.Efforts to reach him were unsuccessful Monday.
Passengers would have a tough time getting any legal justice in the case, said Chip Stewart, an attorney and journalism professor at Texas Christian University. Under Missouri law, passengers would have to prove any intrusion would involve “a secret or private matter that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person,” he said.
The ride-hailing companies disclaim liability for drivers actions in their terms of service, and riders waive their rights to sue when using the services, Stewart said.
“The behavior by the driver is clearly wrong, but the companies make it very hard to win damages against them for this,” he said.
Gargac, 32, who was driving for the services while seeking to get a job as a police officer, said he initially installed the pair of cameras and wireless connectivity for streaming live as a way to protect himself while driving. A control panel let Gargac switch camera views as he drove.
Initially, Gargac told riders about the video setup. But their behavior changed with some even acting out for the camera, he told the Post-Dispatch. “I didn’t like it. It was fake. It felt produced,” he said.
Eventually, he quit telling riders because he decided he didn’t need their consent. Missouri law only requires one party to know about a recording – and allows recording where persons would have no reasonable expectations of privacy.
“It’s dehumanizing,” one woman passenger told the Post-Dispatch.
While watching on Twitch, some viewers at one point were assigning number ratings for women riders based on looks. Other times, they posted insulting and sexual comments.
“This is creepy,” one Twitch user posted, according to the Post-Dispatch, which watched dozens of hours of Gargac’s channel on the video streaming service.
Several passengers complained to Uber after learning about Gargac’s livestream, they told the Post-Dispatch. Uber gave them each a $5 credit and promised they would not again be paired with Gargac as a driver.
After talking with the Post-Dispatch, Gargac asked the reporter to not use his full name, something he had revealed on his own videos.
“Stick with my first name, if you can, because privacy concerns,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “You know, the internet is a crazy place.”