Jason Gargac, based in St. Louis, US, talked about his videos in an interview with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday.
Gargac made $150 to $300 nightly from his ride-sharing jobs, he told the newspaper. It said passengers rarely noticed the camera, and when they did Gargac would often say he was recording them for safety reasons, rather than acknowledging the livestream. Only in this case, the people filmed did not know they were on camera. "The driver's access to the app has been removed while we evaluate his partnership with Uber".
On Sunday, however, as news of Gargac's scheme circulated around the internet, his actions were repeatedly summarized in one word: creepy. But the driver faces no legal repercussions for his behavior because Missouri has "one party consent" privacy laws, meaning only one participant in a conversation needs to agree to its being recorded.
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Ride-hailing services have previously come under scrutiny for the behavior of their drivers. According to the company's help page, drivers are urged to check local regulations to determine if they need to obtain consent from riders to record them. He claims to have stumbled onto the trend while browsing Twitch network and chose to start streaming himself. "It was fake. It felt produced", he said.
An Uber driver in Missouri has been suspended after it emerged that he had been live-streaming hundreds of his passengers on Twitch for months without them even knowing. Uber gave them each a $5 credit and promised they would not again be paired with Gargac as a driver. Sometimes passengers' homes and names were revealed.
Gargac, who graduated from police academy and is seeking a job as a police officer, told the Post-Dispatch that Twitch users have paid him for the videos through subscriptions, donations and tips, and that he has earned about $3,500 from the videos since March. He tweeted that "transparency is always key" and has removed the videos from his Twitch channel as "step #1 of trying to calm everyone down".
"Driver partners are responsible for complying with the law when providing trips, including privacy laws", an Uber spokesman told the Post-Dispatch. "You know, the internet is a insane place".