St. Louis bans taxis from livestreaming videos of passengers

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Taxi drivers in St. Louis have been banned from livestreaming video of their passengers after a local driver for Uber and Lyft broadcast live video of his riders online without their knowledge or consent.

St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission executive director Ronald Klein instituted the rule Tuesday. The commission does not regulate ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft.

The new rule comes after Uber and Lyft cut ties in July with Jason Gargac, of Florissant, Missouri, who streamed hundreds of his rides to his channel on the video website Twitch.

The taxicab commission could overrule Klein's rule but is expected to keep the new policy in place, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The commission already required visible signage notifying customers if a taxi has video or audio recording devices.

"We've never had any livestreaming in taxis, but we wanted to get in front of it," Klein said. "Some recording is necessary for insurance or security, but there's really no reason to livestream, and it's dangerous."

In cutting ties with Gargac, the ride-sharing companies said he violated policies banning disrespectful behavior and using customer's information for personal gain. But neither company has specific policies banning livestreaming or saying how drivers' recordings of passengers can be used, deferring to local regulations.

An Uber spokesman told the Post-Dispatch that the company has been evaluating its policy and hopes to have an update soon. A Lyft spokesperson said the company's policies have not changed.

It is not a crime in Missouri for parties to record their own interactions, unless it shows someone nude without that person's consent. Gargac said in an earlier interview that he was trying to "capture the natural interactions between myself and the passengers — what a Lyft and Uber ride actually is."

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com