Appalled. Horrified. Outrageous.
One of Canada’s leading privacy experts minced no words when asked about the legality and ethics of a video of several Ottawa Senators badmouthing a coach during an Uber ride, which was publicly shared.
“It’s appalling. Who would think they could do that?” said Ann Cavoukian, the distinguished Expert-in-Residence on privacy at Ryerson University’s Privacy by Design Centre of Excellence and a three-term privacy commissioner for Ontario.
Passengers have an expectation of privacy while riding in a taxi or an Uber, Cavoukian said.
“But it’s not just the legality. It’s the ethical issue. Who would guess that someone is recording your conversation in an Uber? If I thought that was the case, I’d never set foot in an Uber.”
The five-minute black and white video appears to have been recorded last week when the Senators were in Phoenix to play the Arizona Coyotes. The video shows the players mocking the team’s poor power play and penalty kill and complaining about coaching methods. It’s unclear how the video was posted on YouTube.
It’s not the first time ride-share customers have found their privacy violated. in 2016, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi was recorded bad-mouthing Uber’s then-CEO Travis Kalanick while conversing with his driver on rival ride-share service Lyft during a visit to Boston.
This summer, a driver who worked for both Uber and Lyft in St. Louis was found to have live-streamed his passengers to the internet without their consent. Uber, itself, is facing a massive class action lawsuit in Alberta by customers who say their personal information was compromised by a data breach at the company.
“He was saying to me the lengths they were going to ensure privacy concerns on the part of passengers are no longer,” she said. “I said you should get certified for privacy because it sounds like you’re doing all the right things.
“Now I’m going to have to go back to him and say, ‘What the hell?’”
Uber did not immediately respond for comment on this story, but includes a lengthy section on privacy on its website. Although it does not specifically mention audio or video recordings, it does say: “Uber may share your information other than as described in this policy if we notify you and you consent to the sharing.”
“Privacy is all about control — the personal control of your information,” said Cavoukian, adding it doesn’t matter if the players were in the U.S. or in Canada when they were recorded.
“Clearly, there is no expectation that these guys were going to be recorded. Had they been aware of that, they would not have been speaking in the manner that they did.”
Cavoukian also raised the question of whether the driver had obtained the players’ consent to film or notified them of the fact he was doing it.
“A little bit of notice, then you’d know to keep your mouth shut and not say anything sensitive. I’m horrified.”
People are increasingly at risk of privacy violations like this since so many areas are under video surveillance, she said.
“If you friggin’ must do it, then at least notify your customers and ask for consent, at which point they can get out of the car.”