Uber suspends driver Jason Gargac after he livestreamed passengers

Businessman getting into backseat of exclusive cab

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A ride-share driver in St. Louis, working for both Uber and Lyft, has been suspended after covertly recording and live-streaming passengers to Twitch, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch describers Jason Gargac, the 32-year-old driver of these ride hailing platforms, to have given around 700 rides since March 2018.

The live streams revealed personal conversations of passengers on a Twitch web channel and comments made about the conversations and female passengers' bodies - a format similar to HBO's Taxicab Confessions from the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Defending himself, Gargac told the paper, "I try to capture the natural interactions between myself and the passengers-what a Lyft and Uber ride actually is".

He said that at first he had informed passengers that he was recording them, but the videos felt "fake" and "produced".

"I think from the outrage that this case is generating you can see that the average person does not expect to be filmed and live-streamed to the world while they're in the back of a cab", she said.

Lyft said in a statement that Gargac had been "deactivated". "I'm embarrassed. 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 vehicle is online and people are watching me". Lyft also tells drivers to refer to local regulations for using cameras while driving riders.

"I feel violated. I'm embarrassed", one passenger told the newspaper, who asked that her name be withheld. "It makes me sick". But the driver faces no legal repercussions for his behavior because Missouri has "one party consent" privacy laws, meaning only one participant in a conversation needs to agree to its being recorded. But the nature of his recordings and the discussions around them that took place on Twitch has drawn criticism.

"The troubling behavior in the videos is not in line with our Community Guidelines", a company statement said.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, passengers did not always know he was live-streaming their journey from a camera mounted on the windscreen.

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.

"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.

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