A Driver for Uber and Lyft Secretly Live-Streamed Hundreds of Passengers

Jul 23, 2018

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A driver for ride-sharing apps Uber and Lyft in St. Louis, Missouri, live-streamed nearly 700 passengers during their rides in his Chevrolet pickup without their knowledge or consent, a report by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reveals.

Jason Gargac, 32, posted live broadcasts of his passengers online — showing everything about them, including their faces, names, conversations, drop-off locations and other personal details. The live videos went on the website Twitch, which stated as a forum to watch live video gaming but has recently delved into other version of live video.

“This better be [expletive] content, I swear to God. This better be [expletive] content, that’s all I’m saying,” Gargac told his viewers in one video, as two female passengers approached his truck. He had gone a half hour with no passengers. “I mean, the blond girl looks kind of cute, if they’re together. The blonde is cute. The one who ordered is not.”

Once the women entered the truck, Gargac’s video traffic went up and lewd comments filled the livestream. Someone claimed “dibs on the blonde,” the paper reports.

After the report by the Post-Dispatch was published, Gargac had been banned by both Uber and Lyft. However, the paper notes that several passengers complained to Uber after learning of the livestreams, and Uber initially told them that they would not be paired with Gargac on future rides and gave them a $5 ride credit.

The Post-Dispatch says that Uber initially did not suspend the driver because technically the video recording was not illegal in Missouri. “Driver partners are responsible for complying with the law when providing trips, including privacy laws,” an Uber spokesman told the paper earlier in July. “Recording passengers without their consent is illegal in some states, but not Missouri.”

In Missouri, only one party needs to consent to recording a conversation to make the action legal.

Lyft gave the paper a similar initial response saying drivers must follow local laws, “including with regard to the use of any recording device.”

Both companies eventually banned Gargac after the story was published. After reviewing the videos and the comments made by the driver, as well as complaints from riders, Uber removed the driver’s access to the app. The nature of livestreaming violates Uber’s community guidelines, which prohibit inappropriate or disrespectful behavior, including commenting on someone’s appearance or that are otherwise disrespectful or sexual in nature.

“The troubling behavior in the videos is not in line with our Community Guidelines,” an Uber spokesperson told TPG in an email. “We have ended our partnership with this driver.”

Likewise, Lyft decided to ban Gargac as a safety precaution for its passengers.

“The safety and comfort of the Lyft community is our top priority, and we have deactivated this driver,” a Lyft spokesperson said in an email statement to TPG. “All drivers on the Lyft platform are required to follow applicable local laws and regulations, including with regard to the use of any recording device.”
“I feel violated. I’m embarrassed,” one affected unnamed passenger told the Post-Dispatch. “We got in an Uber at 2:00am to be safe, and then I find out that because of that, everything I said in that car is online and people are watching me. It makes me sick.”
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