Uber driver streamed hidden camera videos on Twitch

Jul 24, 2018, 08:09
Uber driver streamed hidden camera videos on Twitch

During the live-streams, thousands of Gargac's viewers would offer real-time commentary on the passengers, which were mostly women and sometimes even children.

Gargac, who goes by the name JustSmurf on Twitch, regularly records the interior of his auto while working for Uber and Lyft with a camera in the front of the vehicle, allowing viewers to see the faces of his passengers, illuminated by his (usually) purple lights, and hear everything they say.

He also worked for another on-demand transportation company called Lyft.

The driver, Jason Gargac, told the St. Louis Dispatch he doesn't see anything wrong with broadcasting his riders to a web audience.

Though Gargac's actions weren't technically illegal under Missouri law - which only requires the consent of one party for recording - the whole affair raises questions about the ethics of livestreaming and our assumption of privacy in this modern, ever-connected era.

The Twitch spokesman said the company does not comment on specific cases.

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.

A few passengers who complained to Uber after learning about the recording were given a $5 credit and told it would make sure they would not be assigned Gargac as a driver again.

As the incidents took place in Missouri, no laws have been broken. The Twitch videos were subsequently removed, and Gargac's tweets are now private. "If reported to us by the person whose privacy was invaded, we would take action under our Community Guidelines to remove the content". They compliment the purple LED lights, not knowing they serve to illuminate passengers for the camera.

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".

Lyft said in a statement to The Washington Post that "the safety and comfort of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we have deactivated this driver". There has been an upward trend in recording passengers, she said, driven by "good reasons" like ensuring drivers' safety, or being able to vouch for the quality of their service. There are other two-party consent states, where two participants in a conversations are required to consent to being recorded.

'Saying she was an 8 out of 10 or a 9 out of 10, that's cringe-y to a point, but I don't think it goes over a line, ' he said.

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