Mar 1, 2017 · 3 minutes

There's plenty to be said about Travis Kalanick's "profound apology" for being caught yelling at an Uber driver.

There's plenty to be said about how, witnessing the apology tours that follow videos like this or tapes of Presidential candidates boasting about assaulting women, it's easy to believe that Travis is really only sorry for getting caught.

Foreover, there's an entire discussion to be had around why Travis is now suddenly talking about growing up and making serious changes. These feel like the words of a man who has been warned that his job is at risk. That finally he might feel a tiny fraction of the pain he's inflicted on so many countless others.

We'll certainly get to all that. But first, speaking of getting a taste of one's own medicine... let's talk about that tape.

It’s hard to watch. And not just because it's hard to watch almost any video involving Travis Kalanick, or because the soundtrack appears to be Maroon 5.

It’s hard to watch it because, while the argument between Kalanick and a driver is clearly newsworthy, the airing of the full tape feels profoundly wrong. By posting the full-length recording, not just the portion where Kalanick rails against one of his workers, news sites like Bloomberg have transformed us all into creepy voyeurs, spying on an (albeit very wealthy) dude’s private cab ride with his gal pals.

Before the rant, Kalanick could be any one of us, enjoying a night out. Even during the rant, he could still be almost any one of us having a shitty, misguided night. Take it from this particular recovering alcoholic: It’s not just billionaire douchebags who get into arguments with cab drivers. Impoverished douchebags do too.

Presumably the driver recorded the entire interaction, not just the argument, for some kind of security precaution. Presumably he records all passengers in that way. At least I hope so, because if he started recording just because his passenger was Travis Kalanick then that’s even creepier.

Assuming the camera is always on, it’s safe to assume that right now thousands of cameras are taping thousands of other Uber rides, with thousands of passengers oblivious to the lens.

Is sharing those videos -- which presumably catch many of those passengers in unguarded situations, and having private conversations -- now an OK thing to do? Is it OK for Uber drivers to post videos of passengers with whom they disagree? Or just if the passenger is famous? Should there be a special Uber Confessions video channel on YouTube? Will TMZ  begin soliciting tapes of famous Uber passengers?

Now that the Travis tape is out there, it’s only a matter of time before other drivers come up with their own answers to those questions. This feels like the start of a slippery slope.

And yet.

The fact that the tape is so comfortable serves another unintended purpose: It reminds viewers that Uber is a creepy company -- one that spies on and threatens journalist, stalks and smears critics, and has deep ties with the CIA and DOD. It’s not altogether shocking that some of that creepiness and spy-ishness has trickled down to the drivers themselves. When Uber has built its entire company by tracking and monitoring its users (remember rides of glory?) and has shown little hesitation in using that data for nefarious purposes, why shouldn't drivers feel that turnabout is fair play?

If any good comes out of publishing the tape, at least now Travis Kalanick knows what it’s like to be spied on and smeared by Uber. And at least the rest of us are reminded at how much privacy we surrender simply by installing his app or getting into one of his cars.