Taxi drivers face a lot of challenges in their industry, the biggest of which, is their own personal security. So naturally, they have employed various technology solutions to help them stay safe behind those wheels hauling strangers into and out of even stranger locations. One of those tools is the dash cam, for those who want to be obvious, while for others they place hidden camera in a strategic position inside the taxi.
While it is one thing for the drive to record a trip in their car, it is altogether a different story for them to post the footage online. If you don’t think your Uber, Taxify, Mondo, or Lyft driver could be secretly recording you, then you need to ‘Google up’ Jason Gargac, a taxi driver operating in St. Louis, US, who has been working for Uber and Lyft.
Gargac has been live streaming his dashcam to Twitch, all without his passengers’ knowledge or consent, and is reported to have made $3,5000 from the streams. There is a huge market out there who will watch anything and everything online. And the taxi drivers are slowly coming to the realization that they could be sitting to tons of content they could be posting online and making some extra money. Though Uber and Lyft resorted to deactivating his accounts once the Gargac streams were exposed and irritated the public.
Is it Legal or Illegal for taxi drivers to record their passengers?
According to a publication by Mashable, Jim Dempsey, an executive director at UC Berkeley School of Law’s Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, the Gargac recording may or may not be illegal. Depending on where the trip is located.
For instance, in Missouri, you only need just one party to consent to the recording, and it will be legal. In which case, the driver’s consent is enough to make the recording legal. However, that is as far as just the recording is involved, if however, you decide to post it online. That is a whole different issue together.
“Posting on Twitch or YouTube is certainly a bad idea and may open the drivers to civil liability,” said Dempsey.
You will be surprised at just how many channels are out there showing recordings of passengers in taxis without their (passengers) consent. One Twitch channel, Uber John’s Rodeo, purports to offers ‘live Uber and Lyft rides.’ There is also another YouTuber who is live streaming footage of his passengers taken from a hidden camera in his (driver’s) backseat.
Though it has not been established if the drives let their passengers know that they are being filmed, and will be posted on an online public forum for everyone interested to see.
The Recordings are Safety Measure for the Drivers
Dempsey reiterates recording as a standard safety practice for the drivers themselves, but there’s a line they should not cross.
“Publishing the videos is completely different and unjustified,” said Dempsey.
It is important to point out an incidence where money from a taxi driver was stolen by a passenger. The passenger was only apprehended thanks to the footage taken by the driver’s dash cam that was posted online.