privacy violation uber


An Uber driver in St. Louis has created a huge controversy with his practice of live streaming riders while in his car and enroute to their destination.  It’s definitely creepy, but whether it’s legal is another matter.

There are several questions related to the legal analysis.  First, what expectation of privacy do Uber riders have?  The Uber driver apparently has a small sticker on the car indicating riders will be filmed for security reasons.  And as a practical matter, in our society, where security cameras seem to be everywhere, what expectation of privacy do we really have outside of our home?  The Uber driver probably has a decent argument on that point.

But he may have a weaker one when it comes to the audio portion of his broadcast.  The driver contends that, because Missouri is a “single consent” state, he can record any conversation to which he’s a party without the consent of the other parties to the conversation.  And he’s right about that.

But it seems to me that his participation in the riders’ conversations is a fluid process.  No doubt when the riders get in the car, greet the driver and confirm their location, he’s a party to that exchange.  But assume from that point on, their conversation is solely among themselves.  Can he continue to record?  I’m not sure I’d want to defend that one.  And while there’s an argument that the fact that the driver can overhear the conversation blows up any expectation privacy, that doesn’t mean any rider would expect to have their private conversations shared with the world (they call it the worldwide web for a reason).

In the article, the driver is pretty adamant about his right to broadcast his rides.  But I think he may have some trouble if this ever goes to court.  And it can’t be good for his ratings.