While Uber, Lyft, and other car service apps are convenient for many, there are some moments where I stop and think–this sh*t isn’t always safe.
Getting in the car with anyone you don’t know (even in a New York City yellow cab) leaves you vulnerable, but with companies such as Uber and Lyft–we’d hope that the corporation prevents dangerous occurrences through a heavy screening and security process.
Recently, an Uber driver in St. Louis has been suspended from the company after it was discovered he was secretly filming female passengers and posting it to a web channel where users were able to “vote” and “rate” the women.
According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Jason Gargac had filmed over 700 women without their consent and posted it to his Twitch channel, live-streaming the rides and allowing complete strangers to talk about them, rate them, and dehumanize them.
Clearly, it is an extreme invasion of privacy. People have gotten into his car thinking things were safe to do–such as badmouthing friends, family, bosses, or even getting sick from a drunken night out. However, all of these situations were streamed on the web, allowing people to not only hear the passengers conversations but also see some of their first and last names–even their homes and apartments.
Not only did Gargac film people without their consent, he invested thousands of dollars in “equipment” to do so. He called the passengers “content,” hoping that the women who entered his car would speak enough so that he would gain followers and viewers. But, the comment section of his channel, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, included disgusting, appropriate, and vile comments such as people saying “things they would do to the passengers.”
To make the situation even worse, Gargac has a wife who helped expose innocent and unknowing women to an entire web full of strange men and women–without any problems. His wife even helped narrate some of the videos when posted.
Since the St. Louis Post-Dispatch published their take-down of the Twitch channel, Gargac has deleted his account and the videos. Additionally, Uber and Lyft have suspended him as an active driver for their companies.
However, Gargac is claiming what he did is completely legal–as Missouri is a one-party consent state. This means, specifically, because Gargac was okay with recording himself and his conversations with others–the female passengers did not have to legally consent for it to be okay under Missouri law.
The state doesn’t press charges against those who record their own interactions with others, as long as the videos do not include someone nude without their consent. Additionally, if passengers did want to take legal action, they would have to sue for their privacy rights–proving that their privacy was violated.
Apparently, Gargac was driving for car service companies while looking for a job as a police officer, which he discussed with passengers frequently. He claims that he used the cameras as a “safety measure” as well, to ensure he wasn’t in danger. He gave an interview to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and asked for them to “not use his first name, you know, due to privacy.”
After the story was published online and people learned his name, Twitter was outraged that this man got away, legally, with recording women without their consent and sharing intimate details of their lives.