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A Controversial Scooter Data Tracking Program Gains Traction

As more cities adopt a controversial scooter tracking system pioneered by Los Angeles, concerns about rider data privacy are spreading.
Who's on that thing, and where are they going? The scooter company knows, but the city might, too.
Who's on that thing, and where are they going? The scooter company knows, but the city might, too.Mike Blake/Reuters

If you’ve jumped on a dockless scooter in Los Angeles in the past few months, there’s an excellent chance that your every move was tracked—not just by the scooter company, but by the city itself. As of last year, L.A. officials require operators to send the city real-time pings about where scooters are, when they’re in use, and where they’re headed.

These data collection practices have been controversial from the start among mobility companies and privacy advocates, who say such location data could be used to reveal identities and compromise rider privacy. Now, a new analysis of state privacy law by the California Legislative Counsel raises the specter of possible legal complications for local governments that require operators to share such sensitive trip data.