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As e-scooters grow in popularity, the city wants travel data that critics warn could violate someone’s privacy




People ride shared dockless electric scooters along Venice Beach on August 13, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
People ride shared dockless electric scooters along Venice Beach on August 13, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

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The debate over data privacy continues, only this time, it’s focused around scooters.

The dispute comes as L.A. city guidelines request that scooter-operating companies share real-time location data from every trip with transportation officials. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation is asking companies to hand over data on the start point, end point and total duration of each trip on dockless scooters. The Department says the data will help ensure that the scooters are meeting the limits on permissible amount of scooters per company, equally serve all areas of the city and help officials enforce parking and restricted zones, among other reasons.

Opponents state privacy concerns, arguing that transportation data could reveal sensitive details about riders that could potentially be misused if handled improperly. Although the data collected will not include a name, critics fear the information could lead to an identifiable source.

We discuss.

Guests:

Gabe Klein, co-founder of CityFi, a city consulting firm, and former commissioner of Chicago and Washington, D.C. Department of Transportation; he tweets @gabe_klein

Joseph Jerome, policy counsel for the privacy and data project at the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), a nonprofit organization advocating for civil liberties and individual rights online