Uber and Lyft Drivers Can Violate Your Privacy and Cause Safety Concerns
One of the immediate concerns when rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft began to gain mainstream traction was safety. Not just Uber and Lyft safety in terms of car accidents and driving but safety for the passengers who will be enlisting the services of a freelance driver.
It’s perfectly natural and reasonable to reserve caution when getting into the car with any stranger, whether it’s a normal taxi or a vehicle affiliated with Uber or Lyft. You are in the hands of a driver that you trust the company they are affiliated with, vetted and checked to ensure your safety.
Once again, this concern has come to the forefront of Uber and Lyft passengers with the recent news of an Uber and Lyft driver that used cameras in their vehicle to livestream footage of unaware passengers to the streaming website, Twitch.tv.
Hundreds of Passenger’s Privacies Violated by Uber and Lyft Driver
In St. Louis, an Uber and Lyft driver named Jason Gargac aged 32 has been streaming footage of passengers he has driven without informing them that they are being recorded. Using cameras placed at the dashboard of the car that recorded the front and interior of the vehicle, Jason Gargac used the footage of his driving of unaware passengers to popularize his twitch.tv streaming channel that he runs under the screen-name, JustSmurf.
Twitch.tv is most popular for facilitating the ability for viewers to watch various gamers play their favorite video games live with interaction via audience live commentary through a live-chat system. By invading the privacy of unconsenting passengers, Gargac’s Twitch.tv channel has earned about $3,500 in subscriptions, donations, and tips from Twitch.tv viewers on top of his $150-300 average per-night take.
Consequences of Uber and Lyft Privacy Violation
As of now, Gargac’s Twitch.tv has been made inaccessible with Uber and Lyft formally suspending his account from their respective apps. So far, Gargac has been able to avoid any lawsuits because he technically did not violate any of Missouri’s recording privacy laws.
Legal Ramifications of Recording in an Uber or Lyft
Missouri is a one-party consent state for recordings which means that if at least one party consents to being recorded, then it is legal. This law was initially intended for phone conversations and the use of phone tapping in criminal law but has since expanded. The common exception to this is when the recording is done in a public place where no privacy is expected like a park, shopping mall, or bus.
In this case, Gargac has claimed that the fact that his passengers were essentially getting into a stranger’s car meant that they were entering a space where privacy was not expected. In addition to this he pointed out that when asked about the cameras, he did inform people that they were active and recording but did not always mention that they were streaming live to Twitch.tv.
Gargac had stickers on the windows that read “For security this vehicle is equipped with audio and visual recording devices. Consent given by entering vehicle,” yet most passengers did not notice this.
Florida Two-Party Consent and Recording Context
This violation of privacy may have not have been illegal, strictly speaking, but it is cause for concern among passengers using Uber and Lyft services across the country. While Missouri is one of the many states that have one-party consent laws, Florida is among a minority that have two-party consent laws. Like the name says, both parties being recorded have to consent for the recording to be legal.
So one would assume if something similar occurred in Florida, where an Uber and/or Lyft driver secretly recorded their passengers , it would be illegal. Well there is one caveat to the two-party recording consent laws in Florida and it will sound familiar.
In the case where both parties are in a setting where it is assumed there is no privacy and strangers can overhear or clearly see them, then recording is allowed. So an Uber or Lyft driver like Gargac would try to claim that their vehicle would be considered a place where privacy would not be expected because people would be in an enclosed space with a stranger that can overhear what they say and see what they do.
Additional Safety Concerns with Uber and Lyft Drivers
This incident is only the latest of many instances where safety and privacy concerns have been tested between Uber and Lyft drivers. Some of the most common complaints from Uber and Lyft passengers is sexual assault or sexual harassment from drivers and reckless driving.
Sexual Harassment and Assault by Uber and Lyft Drivers
The most common kind of incident that leads to regular complaints against uber is sexual harassment or assault. Many Uber and Lyft passengers are lone women that get into a stranger’s vehicle under the assumption that they will receive professional service due to the recognizable branding of Uber and Lyft.
Most of the time these women do receive fairly professional service but there have been at least 103 Uber drivers accused of sexually assaulting their passengers in 20 major U.S. cities according to a CNN investigation.In at least 31 of the cases that the CNN report uncovered, the drivers were convicted.
Those are only the drivers the investigation was able to dredge up. Many instances of sexual assault and harassment actually go unreported and drivers do not face consequences despite the efforts of Uber and Lyft to provide a safe rideshare service.
Physical Assault and Violence by Uber and Lyft Drivers
There have been several recorded instances of drivers having disputes with their passengers resulting sometimes in physical violence. Sometimes Uber or Lyft drivers may simply be unstable and will harm their passengers and others.
Right in St. Petersburg last year on August 12th, a driver had a dispute with a passenger that got physical when the driver pulled over. The 38 year-old Uber driver, Kavir O’Farril Diaz punched 56 year-old Terry-Lynn Kimball and put him in the hospital where he never regained consciousness and died.
Another famous incident was in Kalamazoo County, Michigan where an Uber driver went on a shooting rampage that killed six people and injured two others. The driver named Jason Brian Dalton actually drove passengers while engaging in the shooting spree.
Uber and Lyft Safety Measures
There have been several calls for Uber and Lyft to increase the security measures they take when screening drivers and security measures provided to passengers. The rating system for drivers help ensure most rides are cordial for fear of a negative rating but it ultimately is not enough to deter more malicious acts.
Uber and Lyft Driver Screening
Right now, Uber and Lyft use a company called Checkr which uses public databases to screen drivers. This system has been proven to allow many unsuitable people to drive for the companies.
This kind of error prone checking can be exemplified by the “Rideshare Rapist” case unfolding currently in San Francisco where an undocumented immigrant allegedly raped several women and had been discovered to have worked for Lyft in the period the rapes allegedly occurred.
Incidents like this have lead to calls for Uber and Lyft to utilize fingerprint checking which they strongly are against due to cost concerns and its reputation of singling out minorities. On the other hand, it is a law enforcement preferred form of screening since it utilizes the more extensive FBI database.
Seek a Skilled Uber and Lyft Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been the victim of an Uber driver’s malicious or reckless actions then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group about receiving a free consultation on your possible claim. Our lawyers have the expertise you will need to secure the compensation that you deserve.
Contact us at Dolman Law Group’s offices. Please call us at 727-451-6900.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765