Last night a very funny video of some Ottawa Senators shit talking the hell out of their very bad hockey team was released on the internet.
We all got a good laugh at the latest development in the Ottawa Senators bumbling tumble to previously unseen depths of franchise embarrassment. “Look at them,” we say, “even they think they suck!” And while yes, it is very, very funny to see the team’s best player, Matt Duchene, talk about how he doesn’t pay attention during team meetings, there is something rather seriously unsettling about the video.
The video is shot from inside an Uber ride that six Senators are taking while they were playing a road game in Phoenix in late October, and, obviously, they don’t know they’re being filmed. That’s fucking terrifying. Just imagine for a second you’re in the Uber headed home after a pretty good night or, even worse, a bad one. You’re not hammered but you’re tipsy and you and the people you are with starts riffing or ranting. Well, maybe you say something about an employer you shouldn’t, or an ex, or a friend, or a celebrity—it’s just bad news all around. It’s a serious invasion of privacy, even for millionaire athletes—Uber Canada’s general manager has released a statement saying essentially the same thing.
My point here is that we have all been the Senators, we have all shit talked or said something we wouldn’t want public—if you haven’t, whoopty-fucking-doo for you, stop being so boring—we all would, at least in some way, act differently if we knew we were being filmed.
When we’re in the back of a cab or a Uber we, rightfully or wrongly, tend to be enveloped in a sense of security—we’re paying this person, they won’t fuck us over, right? It’s kind of part of the social contract that makes taking an Uber so convenient and this video shits all over it. This is a sentiment Ontario’s former privacy commissioner, Ann Cavoukian, agreed with as she called the situation “appalling” when speaking to the Ottawa Sun about it.
“It’s not just the legality. It’s the ethical issue,” Cavoukian said. “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.”
While this is one of the more high-profile cases, at least for Canada, it isn’t the first time something like this has occurred. In July, a Uber driver was fired for livestreaming his passengers on Twitch, a few years ago Calgary mayor Nenshi was famously caught shittalking Uber in a Lyft ride and even the dickish Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was caught berating one of his drivers—the list goes on. The issue is more nuanced than one might initially think though, a lot of these drivers are using dashcams to film their passengers to make sure they’re not attacked and, if they are, at least there’s evidence of said attack. Others though, lots of them, just use the dash cams to upload crazy videos or to put together compilation videos—some of which have proven to be rather popular.
One YouTuber, who goes by the name “Ryan Is Driving,” only posts videos of him driving Uber. His channel has almost 800,000 subscribers and, according to social blade his videos of his passengers has been seen 44,265,060 times. Some of these YouTubers ask permission of their subjects to film—although many \are pretty drunk on camera—but most either do it off camera or not at all. In the case of the Ottawa Senators, the players have made it clear they did not know they were filmed, writing in a statement that, “our private conversation was recorded without our knowledge or consent."
Uber, for their part, recognized that the video was a PR nightmare and claim they helped get it removed from the internet. (Good luck with that, Uber.) The General Manager of Uber Canada, Rob Khazzam, tweeted out the clip was a “a clear violation of our terms of service and we worked vigorously to investigate this issue.”
“Filming or recording passengers without their consent is totally unacceptable and if reported/detected we will investigate + take action to preserve our communities privacy and integrity,” reads his tweet.
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