Los Angeles Has Turned Scooters Into Data-Mining Machines, According To A New Lawsuit

This week, the EFF announced it’d be partnering with the California-based branches of the ACLU in filing a joint lawsuit against the entire city of Los Angeles for collecting “detailed trip data,” along with the “real-time locations and routes” for the tens of thousands of scooters that LA residents ride each day.

The suit was filed yesterday on behalf of Eric Alejo and Justin Sanchez, two scooter riders who, along with the Northern and Southern branches of California’s ACLU, are looking to get a court order quashing the current regulations being conducted by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation—or LADOT for short. Under the current mandate, so-called “dockless vehicles”—like the scooters operated by JUMP, Lyft, and Lime—aren’t only required to collect minute-by-minute details about every trip taken within Los Angeles’s city limits, but to hand that data to city officials.

The cover story for this massive data-mining operation has been a bit flimsy. According to the court records regarding the suit, LADOT initially began collecting these sorts of details on its riders back in 2018, when the scourge of electric scooters descended on cities across the US, including LA. At the time, the city pitched what it called a “Mobility Data Specification”—or MDS—as a way to mitigate the way scooters were seen cluttering and clogging other streets across the country.