Uber ban on broadcasting passengers was in place during Phoenix incident
ST. LOUIS — The ride-hailing company Uber instituted a new guideline prohibiting drivers from broadcasting passengers’ images amid privacy concerns after a St. Louis-area driver posted hundreds of videos.
The new guideline was put in place at the end of September, an Uber spokesman said Thursday. It allows drivers to use video cameras, dash cameras and other recording devices for security purposes – but not to broadcast them.
“Broadcasting a person’s image, audio, or video recording is a violation of these terms and may result in loss of account access,” the guideline states.
Uber said the guideline was in place when a Phoenix driver posted video from Oct. 29 of Ottawa Senators players insulting the team and an assistant coach. The players apologized to their coach and said in a statement that their “private conversation was recorded without our knowledge or consent.”
Uber said the driver’s access was removed.
In July, both Uber and its rival, Lyft, cut ties with driver Jason Gargac, who recorded about 700 St. Louis-area passengers without their permission and most were streamed to his channel on the live video website Twitch. Passengers who were unwittingly recorded and broadcast included children, intoxicated college students and public figures, including Alice in Chains lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The newspaper said the posted videos sometimes included names and showed passengers vomiting, kissing, and trash-talking relatives, friends and employers. Gargac said at the time he was trying to capture what a Lyft and Uber ride is really like.
Uber began a review of its policies after the incident with Gargac, the company said.
It is not a crime in Missouri for parties to record their own interactions, unless it shows someone nude without that person’s consent. The recording of the NHL players in Phoenix was legal as well since Arizona law requires consent of only one party – in the case of the Uber recording, the driver.
Fallout from Gargac’s recording prompted the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission in September to prohibit taxi drivers from livestreaming video of passengers. But the commission has no authority over Uber, Lyft and other similar services.
Lyft has not changed or instituted a new policy, but requires drivers to follow local laws and regulations, “including with regard to the use of any recording device,” a spokeswoman said.