'This is creepy': In LA, scooters become the next data privacy fight

'This is creepy': In LA, scooters become the next data privacy fight

The next big political fight over data privacy may center on an unlikely piece of technology: The scooters currently flying around streets and scattered on sidewalks in cities across the country.

Key findings

City officials want granular location information on thousands of dockless scooters that are proliferating in the sprawling southern California metropolis. They say it’s critical to know what’s happening in their streets and ensure people are being served equitably.

A LADOT spokesperson said the agency would share data with the Los Angeles Police Department only when presented with a warrant; the spokesperson did not answer questions about whether information can be revealed in a lawsuit or what restrictions LA imposes on sharing between city agencies.

Last December, a collection of chief data officers of American cities signed an open letter heralding the launch of dockless vehicles and arguing that cities getting their raw data was “essential for internal urban planning.” They argued for “block-level aggregation” that would safeguard privacy and against sharing individual routes.

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