An Uber and Lyft driver in St. Louis, Missouri has given around 700 rides since March 2018, and nearly all of them have been live-streamed on Twitch, without passenger consent. In a lengthy report, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch detailed the actions of Jason Gargac, a 32-year ride-hailing driver who took advantage of Missouri’s one-party consent laws to build up a Twitch following by live-streaming passengers — including children. At times, Gargac has inadvertently revealed the full names of his riders and what their homes and neighborhoods looked like on his channel, under the online handle “JustSmurf.”
Gargac isn’t the first driver to live stream his or her passengers on Twitch; the man says he stumbled onto the trend while surfing Twitch and decided to try it himself. He is, however, one of the few, if not the only one in Missouri, to do so without asking for permission first. (Other “IRL” ride-hailing live streamers often lose passengers the minute they disclose they’re streaming, the report notes.) Gargac has a $3,000 camera setup, including rear-facing and front-facing cameras that show the interior of the car and the environment he’s driving in. He has about 4,350 Twitch followers, and around 100 of them pay a minimum of $5 a month to subscribe to his channel and support it financially.
Though many of his interactions with passengers are congenial or comical, with Gargac befriending his passengers, his online following can be less pleasant. Viewers sometimes mock individuals, rate the attractiveness of female passengers, and largely push the limits of what’s acceptable on Twitch. Gargac told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was forced to create on-screen graphics to prevent his viewers from selectively “clipping,” or editing out short clips and upskirt shots of female passengers. He’s also had to mute his microphones when addresses or sensitive personal information is disclosed on his stream, but he must he do so preemptively and cannot completely control what information might slip through to his viewers.
“I have sex in my bedroom. I don’t have sex in strangers’ cars,” Gargac told the paper in an interview, commenting on the expectations of privacy one has in someone else’s vehicle. “Because I have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the bedroom in my own house. I don’t have that in a stranger’s car.” Gargac also says the live stream provides him security. “If something happens, immediately there can be a response versus hopefully you’ll find my truck in a ditch three weeks later,” he said. However, he did confirm that he started his Lyft and Uber accounts for the sole purpose of streaming passengers on Twitch. “I love doing it,” he concluded.
According to Missouri state law, Uber, and Lyft, Gargac is in the clear. Because he is not breaking one-party consent laws, the state can’t do anything about his recording of passengers without their permission. Neither Uber or Lyft told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Gargac was breaking any of their terms, with both companies noting that drivers are responsible for following local laws. “Recording passengers without their consent is illegal in some states, but not Missouri,” Uber told the paper in a statement.