It’d be one thing for your Uber or Lyft driver to record your trips in their car — but it’s another thing entirely when your driver posts that footage online.
If you don’t think that’s happening, you probably haven’t heard the recent story of Jason Gargac, a St. Louis-area Uber and Lyft driver who was revealed to have taken dash cam footage of his riders and posted it on Twitch — all without their knowledge. He reportedly made off the stream.
It’s a pretty sketchy thing to do — sketchy enough to get Gargac deactivated from Uber and Lyft. But just because surreptitiously filming your passengers is heinous doesn’t mean it’s illegal.
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.
“Posting on Twitch or YouTube is certainly a bad idea and may open the drivers to civil liability,” Dempsey cautioned.
Many streams and videos don’t seem to think much about passenger privacy. One Twitch channel, Uber John’s Rodeo, boasts offerings of “live Uber and Lyft rides.” Another YouTube live stream has hours of footage from a driver who films passengers in his backseat.
It’s unclear if these drivers ever tell the riders what they’re doing. It’s also mind-numbingly boring to watch. The only person who seems to be getting any satisfaction out of it is, well, the streamer.
Dempsey said recording is common practice as a safety measure for drivers, but there’s a fine line that these drivers cross.
“Publishing the videos is completely different and unjustified,” he explained.
But there are narrow instances when posting footage of passengers online may actually have been essential. In 2017, a search for a passenger who stole money from a driver’s tip jar was only possible because the driver’s dash cam footage was posted.
But there’s a hungry market out there ready and eager to watch anything and everything, and some drivers are realizing they are sitting on a bevy of content.