Posted by on November 16, 2018 5:46 pm
Categories: Liberty MassPrivateI Privacy Science smart technology Surveillance Technology

By MassPrivateI

A recent article in Smart Cities Dive revealed that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (DOT) will be partnering with Remix, Lime and Spin to create a mobility data standard for rideshares.

A “mobility data standard” is just a fancy way of saying a real-time scooter and bicycle tracking standard.

The LADOT will be “receiving data from the companies that are providing the new mobility services in real-time.”  Let that sink in for a minute; DOTs are receiving real-time data about scooter and bike share users.

A City of Los Angeles inter-departmental correspondence mentions the need for the DOT to track rideshare users in real-time twenty times.

An article in PR Web was a little more revealing, calling the partnership a “data sharing agreement.”

Are DOTs being used to spy on bicycles and scooters?

Earlier this year I warned everyone that Uber has been tracking rideshare users in real-time and sending personal information to governments. And last year I warned people that Spin bicycles equipped with Tomes Software can be used to identify everyone.

If you still need more convincing, remember that rideshare companies have a close relationship with Smart City surveillance.

What kind of data do rideshare companies keep?

National bike share data program tracks users in real-time

DOTs across the country are using the North American Bike Share Association’s (NABSA)  “General Bikeshare Feed Specification” which allows government agencies to track rideshare users across the country.

The General Bikeshare Feed Specification, known as GBFS, is the open data standard for bikeshare. GBFS makes real-time data feeds in a uniform format publicly available online, with an emphasis on findability.

A deeper look into GBFS reveals that the LADOT uses GeoFence to monitor rideshare users from the beginning of their trip all the way through to their final destination.

A look at NABSA’s members list reveals that their are currently six DOTs using GBFS. There are close to 80 different government and private businesses using GBFS to identify rideshare users. But perhaps nothing says surveillance quite like “Gotcha Bike.” (A Google search for Gotcha Bike returned over 4 million hits.)

Another red flag for anyone worried about rideshare privacy is the LADOT’s admission that they used the “White House Source Code” and “hundreds of other governmental agencies worldwide” to help them decide how to track rideshare users.

It should be noted that the GBFS claims it anonymizes user data, but we all know how easy it is to identify rideshare users. Some of the things DOTs use to identify rideshare users are spying streetlights, Bluetooth detectors, SmartNodes and Smart City Kiosks.

A business partnership with DOTs relies on two things: selling your personal information, and turning a profit. (Click here to find out about DOTs selling breathalyzers.)

You can read more at the MassPrivateI blog, where this article first appeared.

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