Civics & Privacy: Los Angeles is fighting for e-scooter data

Christine Fisher:

At the moment, it looks like a stalemate. LA city officials claim the data would provide insight into scooters as a growing means of transit, let the city see if scooters end up in the LA River and help ensure scooters are available to lower-income residents. Reportedly, the data would not be shared with police without a warrant, would not contain personal identifiers and would not subject to public records requests.

But privacy experts warn that scooter location data could be enough to reveal a person’s movements and private transactions, especially because scooters don’t stop at docking stations. Instead, they take passengers right up to their homes or businesses.

Perhaps the biggest issue here is what this foreshadows. As scooter ridership grows across the country and electric vehicles generate massive amounts of data, it will be interesting to see if that intel remains in the hands of private companies or if they’ll be required to share it. Of course, this is not the first time California and Uber have gone head-to-head or that scooters have been the center of controversy.