You may have heard about this - a man by the name of Benjamin Golden, who, at the time, was an executive at Taco Bell, was caught on a video dashcam beating an Uber driver last fall in California. The driver, Edward Caban, sued Golden for damages amounting to greater than $25,000, but Golden is now suing Caban for $5 million, claiming the recording of the video violated his privacy and that he suffered emotional distress and humiliation when the video was posted to social media. California is a state where both parties must consent to be recorded, and Golden is saying that he never agreed to be recorded in any way. Although courts have generally held that recordings made by businesses for security purposes are OK, the core of Golden’s grievances seems to pertain to the unpleasant notoriety that ensued in his disfavor when Caban posted the dashcam video to YouTube.
People are outraged over the fact that Golden would sue Caban in this case, and I get it; Golden is obviously an unsympathetic “victim” for the lawsuit he’s bringing here. That said, I wonder how many who’ve expressed their anger over the fact that he’s suing Caban are really thinking through the implications associated with videotaping an individual in a moment like this and then splashing it all over YouTube. I’m sure virtually none of us sees a problem with the video being utilized in a civil and/or criminal suit against the attacker, and, likely, the use of the video in that way is legally within bounds (as it should be). However, when you take that same video and post it to an entertainment platform like YouTube, there will be more than a few people…me included…who see something wrong-headed about that.
While I’ve never assaulted another person in this way, neither would I care to see any of my, say, 5 worst moments in public recorded and put on YouTube, where they might remain for the rest of my days. For example, I’m sure a lot of people have no problem with modest, garden-variety corporal punishment (me included)…but if someone recorded you swatting your kid on the bottom for misbehaving in a store and posted that on YouTube, where you were publicly identified and hundreds of thousands of people chose to weigh in on what a scumbag you are, my guess is that those of you outraged by Golden’s lawsuit might have a slightly different perspective.
The fact is that Uber passenger Golden might win his lawsuit, and I’m not sure that he shouldn’t; not because I think his assault of the Uber driver was right…only a moron would think that…but because I would love to see the pendulum swing back a ways against the idea that every individual, in every moment he is outside of his house, is fair game to be recorded in some way and splashed all over social media.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large