St Louis Uber driver live-streamed hundreds of passengers

Kelley Robertson
July 25, 2018

This week, a driver in St. Louis has reportedly been suspended by Uber and Lyft for recording and broadcasting hundreds of his rides live on Twitch.

Jason Gargac, 32, of Florissant, Missouri, has given about 700 rides since March and most have been streamed to his channel on the live video website Twitch, where he goes by the username "JustSmurf", the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Nearly all rides have been streamed to his channel on the live video website Twitch, where he goes by the username "JustSmurf".

Twitch did not respond to the Post-Dispatch's requests for comment for the story, but said in a statement after publication that the service would remove content in response to complaints from people who say their privacy was violated. Some of the thousands of conversations Gargac recorded revealed passengers' full names and where they lived, according to the Post Dispatch.

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".

"We're really dealing with a law that was developed just during the time of audio recording", Stewart said. "I'm embarrassed. We got in an Uber at 2 be safe, and then I find out that because of that, everything I said in that auto is online and people are watching me".

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.

Some of Gargac's passengers who were tracked down by the Post-Dispatch weren't happy when they were told about the livestream. "It makes me sick".

"In regards to our policies, under our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service, we do not allow people to share content that invades others' privacy", a Twitch spokesperson says.

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.

His Twitch channel has been suspended.

Private conversations and other intimate interactions were also captured and shared instantly allowing Twitch users to comment on these moments in real-time.

It is not a crime in Missouri for parties to record their own interactions, unless it shows someone nude without that person's consent.

"It's a fact-by-fact case", Pate said, "and I don't think there have been any court decisions to deal with this particular issue". "I don't think I would want to be filmed without my permission, or even knowledge", Samantha Soto said.

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