Tell the City Council to put the brakes on LADOT’s rider surveillance program

Los Angeles riders deserve privacy in the bike and scooter trips they take —be they for work, medical appointments, social engagements, prayer, or other First Amendment-protected activities. The next phase in LADOT's Mobility Data Specification (MDS) will force dockless ride-sharing services to push precise location data to the city for every ride in Los Angeles. However, without responsible use and privacy policies, the department remains out of compliance with its duty to protect the people of Los Angeles.

Thousands of Angelenos rely on these services every day. We can't let the LADOT sign away their right to privacy. Tell your City Council member to put the brakes on this dangerous program.

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To: councilmember.cedillo@lacity.org, councilmember.Krekorian@lacity.org, councilmember.blumenfield@lacity.org, david.ryu@lacity.org, paul.koretz@lacity.org, councilmember.martinez@lacity.org, Councilmember.Rodriguez@lacity.org, councilmember.harris-dawson@lacity.org, councilmember.price@lacity.org, councilmember.wesson@lacity.org, councilmember.bonin@lacity.org, councilmember.Smith@lacity.org, councilmember.ofarrell@lacity.org, councilmember.huizar@lacity.org, councilmember.buscaino@lacity.org Subject: Respectful request to stop the expansion of LADOT's dockless mobility data collection program. As a Los Angeles resident, I'm writing to urge you to protect the safety and privacy of your constituents by halting the expansion of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) Mobile Data Specification (MDS), scheduled for enforcement on April 15. The lack of responsible, enforceable policies for how LADOT will use, anonymize, and share the sensitive trip data they already collect--and the limitations that will be placed on third-party partners, like Remix--creates significant real-world risks for the people of Los Angeles. The fact that many Los Angeles e-bike and scooter riders are entirely unaware of this program only exacerbates these concerns. Your constituents lack the most basic information required to make informed decisions regarding their privacy and use of these devices. This needs to change. Before moving forward with the expansion scheduled for April 15, LADOT should be made to adopt transparent, binding policies regarding the collection, use, anonymization, retention, and sharing of trip information; including restrictions on sharing this information with law enforcement without a warrant. Public awareness, accountability, and transparency are essential to meaningful engagement in the democratic process and a free society. I ask you to stand with your constituents by calling for a suspension of enforcement of the next stage of the MDS, scheduled for April 15, until LADOT has addressed these significant privacy and civil liberties concerns. Sincerely,

Intent and impact are not the same. The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) may have good intentions behind its demands for data from bike and scooter operators, but LADOT has not balanced those intentions with the privacy and safety of the people of Los Angeles.

Like many cities across the US, Los Angeles streets were unexpectedly overwhelmed with dockless scooters and bicycles. LADOT’s intent to address this issue is admirable. But any effort to address the problem must be coupled with responsible oversight.

LADOT’s data sharing mandates for electronic bikes and scooters, which it refers to as its Mobile Data Specification (MDS), have failed in this regard. It has failed to adopt clearly articulated policies regarding how it will use the data, how long it will retain the data, when it will delete the data, and the conditions on which it shares data with third parties. Despite this, LADOT has already shared access to this data with Delaware based for-profit corporation Remix.

What started as a plan to improve access and ensure that bike and scooter operators complied with the agency's permitting requirements has evolved into a surveillance program with little obvious thought for the privacy rights of Los Angeles residents. Los Angeles riders deserve privacy in the bike and scooter trips they take —whether for work, doctors appointments, social engagements, prayer, or other First Amendment-protected activity.

The Los Angeles City Council has requested action from LADOT to regulate the use of bikes and scooters on Los Angeles streets. But in attempting to meet that mandate, LADOT has ignored the privacy and civil liberties of the people of Los Angeles. Tell your City Council member to act now, and put the brakes on LADOT’s planned April 15 expansion of the MDS until it has responsibly addressed the significant risks to the freedom, safety, and privacy of Los Angeles residents.