Jason Gargac, 32, was struck off the drivers' list for Uber and Lyft, another cab-hailing service, in St Louis, Missouri, when it was discovered that an anonymous audience on the streaming service Twitch had been watching and commenting on hundreds of his clients.
Some of the videos also revealed passengers' names and addresses. But the recordings raise serious ethical questions about the driver's behavior.
Jim Dempsey, executive director at UC Berkeley School of Law's Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, said the recording may or may not be illegal depending on where the trip is located - in Missouri, for example, you only need one party's consent to legally record a conversation - but that doesn't mean it's fair game to post online for all the world to see. This month a man suspected of being the "ride-share rapist", who posed as an Uber driver in...
Gargac told the publication that he saw nothing wrong with his behavior.
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It'd be one thing for your Uber or Lyft driver to record your trips in their vehicle - but it's another thing entirely when your driver posts that footage online. It said passengers rarely noticed the camera, and when they did Gargac would often say he was recording them for safety reasons, rather than admitting to livestreaming. 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". Some viewers paid a monthly subscription fee, the newspaper reported, while others donated money or gave tips.
The report says that Gargac is not the only one doing so without seeking consent of his passengers.
Uber said Monday it has ended its relationship with Gargac.
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". However, Gargac told the Post-Dispatch that one of the key differences in his streams compared to those already on the service is that he didn't ask his passengers for permission, believing it resulted in a "fake" experience.
But some riders said they felt their privacy had been violated. "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 auto is online and people are watching me".