PRIVATE EYES

Uber and Lyft suspended a driver who was streaming rides on Twitch

Watching you.
Watching you.
Image: Reuters/Tyrone Siu
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Uber and Lyft cracked down this weekend on a driver who was streaming live recordings of his rides on Twitch unbeknownst to most of his passengers.

The driver, Jason Gargac, shared videos of nearly all 700 rides he provided through Uber this year, and more through Lyft, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Friday. Gargac captured his interactions with passengers, including children and those who appeared to be drunk, on Twitch, which a video-streaming service owned by Amazon.

There, users mocked and otherwise judged the passengers in comments. The Post-Dispatch reported:

First names, and occasionally full names, are revealed. Homes are shown. Passengers have thrown up, kissed, talked trash about relatives and friends and complained about their bosses in Gargac’s truck.

It’s not uncommon for drivers to film their passengers. Dash cams have become popular in the ride-hailing business, with drivers often using the footage to safeguard themselves against bad reviews or false accusations from customers, Quartz previously reported. Some have also taken to sharing the recordings online.

On platforms like YouTube and Twitch, drivers can even profit from the videos if they feature advertising. Gargac, an Army veteran seeking a job as a police officer, told the Post-Dispatch the income was part of the reason he streamed the rides.

Uber allows drivers to record passengers for safety reasons, as long as they follow local regulations governing recordings, according to the company’s policy. In some states, drivers have to tell passengers they are being recording or get their consent. Lyft’s recording-device policy is similar and depends on local laws.

Missouri has a one-party consent law for recordings, which means Gargac’s behavior was legal. But it’s still extremely unsettling, especially for those passengers who were unwittingly caught on tape.

It crossed a line for Uber and Lyft, too. Uber suspended Gargac after the Post-Dispatch published its story, and Uber reviewed the videos and complaints from riders. “The troubling behavior in the videos is not in line with our Community Guidelines,” an Uber spokesperson told Quartz, specifically, Gargac’s livestream, and the inappropriate comments made about his passengers in it. A Lyft spokesperson told Quartz that it deactivated Gargac, as well.

Twitch, which is popular with video gamers, also removed Gargac’s channel, under the name JustSmurf. The company does not comment on violations by individual users, a spokesperson said. But its community guidelines and terms of service restrict the sharing of content that invades others’ privacy.

Update (July 23 at 8:45am EST): This post was updated with a statement and additional information from Uber.