As the live video streaming platform Twitch continues to become more popular, people are finding new uses for it every day. 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.
According to the St. Lous Post-Dispatch, a 32-year-old driver named Jason Gargac has streamed nearly all of the 700 rides he's given since March directly on Twitch through an account called "JustSmurf." The streams often revealed the full names of his passengers and showed their homes and final destinations without their knowledge.
"I feel violated," one anonymous passenger told the Post-Dispatch. "I’m embarrassed. 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."
Defending himself, Gargac told the paper, "I try to capture the natural interactions between myself and the passengers—what a Lyft and Uber ride actually is."
At several points in the dozens of hours of archived footage, passengers noticed the camera and asked Gargac why he's recording them. His go-to answer was that the recordings were for safety, but he avoided telling his riders that the footage was being streamed live on Twitch.
The act of live streaming passengers without consent is technically legal in the state of Missouri, which is why Lyft and Uber didn't suspend Gargac immediately. "Driver partners are responsible for complying with the law when providing trips, including privacy laws," an Uber spokesman told the Post-Dispatch in early July. "Recording passengers without their consent is illegal in some states, but not Missouri."
After the Post-Dispatch's story was published, Uber and Lyft each decided to suspend Gargac as a driver for violating their community guidelines, however. "The troubling behavior in the videos is not in line with our Community Guidelines," Uber explained in a statement. "The driver’s access to the app has been removed while we evaluate his partnership with Uber."
Garcac's Twitch channel was taken down over the weekend. He had reportedly earned over $3,000 from Twitch users for broadcasting his rides.