In an bizarre and ironic reversal, Los Angeles (California) demands Uber provide data about the movements of its cars and scooters, and Uber refuses to hand it over, claiming to protect customers’ privacy.
The irony is that Uber is entirely right about this narrow issue — but the issue only exists because of Uber’s abusive tracking practices. Los Angeles should not be allowed to know who goes where, and neither should Uber.
Los Angeles has suspended Uber’s permit to rent electric scooters and bicycles because the corporation refused to follow the city’s rules on data sharing. The temporary suspension could result in the city confiscating scooters and bikes of Uber’s subsidiary Jump. It marks the latest conflict between local governments and the rideshare company, which has repeatedly flouted traditional transportation regulations.
Out of eight companies granted permits to operate scooters in LA, Uber is the only one that has refused to provide its data to the city, Colin Sweeney, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) spokesperson said Monday.
The city suspended Uber’s permit last week, and if the company does not appeal the suspension by Friday, the permit would officially be revoked, he said. Uber and its subsidiary Jump, which operates the scooters and bikes, have threatened to sue the city over the dispute.
However Uber is (in this case) defending users’ privacy, it should not be trusted. The fact that they did not hand over users’ data does not mean they should be able to collect information from users. Users should be able to control what kind of data is stored from them and how long it can be kept. As long as they collect information, they should not be trusted.