When most people request a driver from a ride-sharing service, they probably aren’t expecting their journey to be recorded or streamed online, but that’s exactly what happened in St. Louis, Missouri. Reports from Mashable say Jason Gargac, a 32-year-old driver for Uber and Lyft, decided to live-stream his passengers to his Twitch steaming channel without their consent.
It’s being said that Gargac took advantage of Missouri’s one-party consent laws to increase his followers online with his live-streams on Twitch. In some cases, Gargac, who streams under the username “JustSmurf,” has even accidentally revealed personal information of his riders, including full names, home addresses, and neighborhoods.
“Gargac has given about 700 rides in the area since March through Uber, plus more with Lyft,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And nearly all of those rides have been streamed to the popular live video site.
Gargac’s passengers have included kids, drunk folks making their way home or around town, and even a couple of public figures, like a reporter from NBC-affiliated television station KSDK and Alice in Chains’ lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell, as stated by the report.
The driver says he used to inform passengers about his live streaming but felt the interactions wouldn’t be as interesting if the passengers were aware they were being viewed by others online.
“I try to capture the natural interactions between myself and the passengers — what a Lyft and Uber ride actually is,” Gargac told the paper. He says since the creation of his channel he has earned about $3,500 from Twitch viewers via subscriptions, donations, and tips — in addition to his $150-300 average per-night take.
As for his streaming gear, his setup is on the pricey side, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He has a $3,000 camera setup, which includes cameras facing the front and rear of the car’s interior as well as the environment around him.
This kind of live-streaming seems to be a trend on Twitch. Gargac says he came across the trending videos and decided to try it himself. However, unlike many other live-streamers, he is one of the few to do so without asking for the passenger’s permission first.
While Gargac isn’t technically breaking the law in his state, his passengers aren’t exactly happy after finding out their rides were being streamed live.
“I feel violated. I’m embarrassed,” one passenger told the Post-Dispatch. “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 car is online and people are watching me. It makes me sick.”
“It’s dehumanizing,” another passenger said.
But the driver claims passengers should have no reasonable expectation of privacy when getting into a “stranger’s car.”
“I have sex in my bedroom. I don’t have sex in strangers’ cars,” he said. “Because I have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the bedroom in my own house. I don’t have that in a stranger’s car.”
Based on the laws in the state of Missouri, no charges can be filed against Gargac since he hasn’t broken any laws.
However, Uber has issued a statement on the matter.
“The troubling behavior in the videos is not in line with our Community Guidelines. The driver’s access to the app has been removed while we evaluate his partnership with Uber.”
“Under our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service, we do not allow people to share content that invades others’ privacy. If reported to us by the person whose privacy was invaded, we would take action under our Community Guidelines to remove the content,” a representative from Twitch told Polygon.
Lyft has yet to comment on the matter.