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Uber Driver in Legal Trouble for Live Streaming Passengers

The passengers didn't have a clue.

July 23, 2018 - 9:55 am
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Uber and Lyft driver Jason Gargac live streamed more than 700 rides to an audience of paying subscribers on Twitch. The passengers didn't have a clue.

“None of them had any idea that they were being recorded, let alone streamed to the internet, and they were all pretty surprised and disgusted,” says St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Erin Heffernan.

Heffernan says Gargac's live stream captured personal information, including addresses, and moments like making out and throwing up. Meantime, the online audience was making often crude comments, calling passengers bad parents, making judgements on their looks and speech.

The Post-Dispatch covered up passengers' faces in their coverage. On Gargac's channel, it's all there to see.

“He kind of wanted to have it both ways about whether the passengers new about the camera or not. He said that what made his channel stand apart was that he did not get consent from his passengers and he didn’t let them know they were being recorded, so that they weren’t guarded and would act like they would if there was no camera,” she says.

Gargac told the paper that he got better content when passengers didn't know they were being live streamed. He also asked the reporter not to use his last name. Gargac made over $3,000 from the subscriptions, but he's now been booted from Uber and Lyft. He tweeted "transparency is key" and deleted his videos from Twitch.

KMOX asked attorney Brad Young of the firm Harris, Dowell, Fisher and Young about the Uber driver's stream and what victims can do.

Young says technology is moving so fast, the courts haven’t yet dealt with a case like this. He points to a case that got to the Missouri Supreme Court between a former Blues player and a comic book creator.

“If it was simply an expression that used the image of Tony Twist, for pure expression purposes, there would not be any liability, but since that expression had a specific commercial purpose, then there was liability. People have a right to protect their image and likeness for commercial purposes,” he says.

And Uber driver Jason Gargac sold subscriptions to his live stream and made money from it. 

“I can tell you that I believe each and every person who was broadcast, live streaming in that subscription service with the Uber driver, they would technically have a  cause of action against the Uber driver for a violation of their right of publicity,” he says.

Young says the question really is about damages - how do you place a value on being embarrassed?