Live Streaming of Uber/Lyft Passengers Raise New Privacy Concerns


Recording of Everyday Activities Has Become Common

These days, it has become a common practice to find people willing to live stream and broadcast every aspect of their lives on social streaming networks such as Twitch, Mixer, Facebook, and Instagram. Known as “in real-life” streaming, broadcasters have been able to share what used to be considered more-private aspects of their lives to viewers online at any time. Live streaming activities may include, for example, working out at the gym, cooking dinner at home, and even body-painting.

While live broadcasting was previously used more predominantly in the online adult industry, it has become increasingly socially acceptable to used the Internet to simply watch others go about their daily routines and execute even mundane tasks. With the potential for Internet fame and even content monetization, online broadcasters have increasingly pushed the envelope of what they are willing to share online.

Privacy Concerns Heightened with Live Streaming of Lyft & Uber Passengers

One of the newest trends has been the live streaming of Uber and Lyft passengers being picked up and dropped off at their requested destination. Few, if any, of the streamers that record their passengers and broadcast these trips bother to secure any type of consent from the passengers. Moreover, because the trip is being broadcast live, without delay and edits, personal information such as names, home addresses, and even sometimes payment methods are aired to anonymous third parties that are viewing the live stream.

No Federal or State Law Guidance Exists for Live Streaming

As is common with the law, lack of foresight has left us without federal guidance and oversight concerning how to protect the privacy of consumers when using car-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Most privacy experts note that, in such cases, we are left to look to state laws to determine what may and may not be recorded, including live streaming, without one’s consent.

State laws mostly address only the recording of phone calls and conversations, not live streaming and broadcast. Known as one-party or two-party consent laws, states often differ on whether a conversation can be lawfully recorded if one of the parties to the conversation is unware they are being recorded. Similarly, state laws lack guidance regarding live streaming.

Uber, Lyft, YouTube Providing The Only Terms & Guidance On Live Streaming of Others

With a lack of specific legislation that addresses the simultaneous airing of recorded conversations, the onus often falls on Lyft and Uber to provide guidelines regarding how drivers may operate the dash cams they use to record or livestream the rides. Because dash cams are often used, and even encouraged, to ensure the proper modicum of behavior between driver and passengers, the outright ban of cameras in a car is unlikely.

Further, because the public recording of private citizens with later broadcast on the Internet has become a relatively accepted phenomenon, websites like YouTube have become rife with videos of private citizens being filmed in public places. When the videos reveal citizens behaving badly, such videos have often led to very real consequences for both drivers and passengers in the real world.

No Expectation of Privacy?

Despite the increasing commonality of citizens being recorded, the law has yet to truly distinguish where the line is and what citizens may now reasonably expect to stay private. As it stands now, it is safe to say that until the government provides real guidance over what kind of expectations of privacy citizens may expect, state laws and even the terms of services of streaming websites and platforms will control in the absence of federal law.

For more information on this topic, visit our Data Privacy service page, which is part of our Technology & Data Practice.

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