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Uber and Lyft have been forced to take action against a St. Louis driver who had been recording passengers without their knowledge or consent and broadcasting streaming video to his Twitch account. Since signing up for Uber in March, 32-year-old Jason Gargac has given more than 700 rides (and that’s not even counting Lyft) to unwitting passengers and nearly all of them have been recorded, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Although Gargac relied on a small team, including his wife, to filter content, female passengers would routinely be subject to degrading and disgusting remarks from Twitch users about their looks. On at least one occasion, a user was able to get a screenshot of an upskirt, which was then passed around on the internet. In other cases, passengers inadvertently revealed personal information about themselves including last names and addresses.
Meanwhile, Gargac has skated past legal or criminal repercussions because Missouri law states that only one party to a conversation needs to consent to a recording.
When the Post-Dispatch initially reached out to Uber while investigating the story, it was told that drivers are responsible for complying with the law when providing trips, including privacy laws. Lyft also released a similar statement regarding local laws, “including with regard to the use of any recording device.”
After the story broke on Friday, however, Uber suspended Gargac’s account, and Lyft had deactivated him by early Sunday morning. Likewise, his livestream channel has since vanished from Twitch. The Post-Dispatch noted that prior to being deactivated by Twitch—which would not comment on the story—his channel had about 4,500 followers, including around 100 subscribers who paid $5 per month.
As for Gargac, who submitted to a 90-minute in-person interview for the story, he displayed a staggering lack of self-awareness regarding his online activity.
“I have sex in my bedroom. I don’t have sex in strangers’ cars,” he told a reporter. “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.”
Gargac also requested that the Post-Dispatch not print his full name in the story, even after handing a reporter a business card. “Stick with my first name, if you can, because privacy concerns,” he said, in the last paragraph of the story. “You know, the internet is a crazy place.”
It’s worth noting, that before the story broke Gargac was training to become a police officer, which he enthusiastically relayed to many of his passengers.
Something tells us he may have just hit a few bumps in the road in accomplishing that goal.
Stacey Ritzen is a reporter and editor based in West Philadelphia with over 10 years' experience covering pop culture, web culture, entertainment, and news. You can follow her on Twitter @staceyritzen.