Rise of the Surveillance Scooters?

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/03/12/rise-of-the-surveillance-scoot.html


So, if I want to rob a bank in LA, I should rent a scooter, then have my friend ride it to a mall six miles in the opposite direction, thus creating an instant alibi for me? Got it, thanks.

I wonder if you can stop these little two-wheeled snitches from continuously grassing you up to the Man by wrapping the antenna in tinfoil, or if they’ll mandate that the firmware has to cut power to the engine any time the data link goes down. That could have some fun consequences.


If you’re going to “disrupt” the public right-of-way for pedestrians with your obnoxious rolling e-waste, don’t expect me to rush to the defense of your “civil liberties”.


Thanks for this. They also block the way for people in wheelchairs when people toss them in the middle of the sidewalks. Also they shouldn’t be “popular” with middle schoolers, because it’s illegal for middle schoolers to even ride them.

If exposing the API for the GPS means that my city (not L.A.) can better find them when they’re improperly parked and impound them, I’m fine with it.


Track the scooters/bikes not the users. When they are in use the data could just be a user is using it and have no link to user accounts. This tracking might be a nice way to make sure that companies who run them can see when there is a giant pile up of them and sort them out.


Well, that’s somewhat disappointing.
I had hoped that LA would track me with something cool like Blue Thunder; not silly little scooters.


Ken MacLeod’s Intrusion gives a brilliant look at (among other things) nearish future pervasive ubiquitous surveillance, where all forms of the state from extra-governmental organizations at the UN, to nation states, to clique’s of school-children’s parents, to the cop-in-the-head are all engaged in constant surveillance as a means of social transaction.

IoT and powerful ubiquitous mobile personal computing integrated into all aspects of the majority of people’s lives implies a deep sea change in privacy.

1 Like



I don’t see how one could expect privacy when moving about in pubic on a rented transport. I kinda expected the owner of the conveyance would track those things and I see no reason for them to not share that data with the police.


That an institution now wants to weaponize these nuisances against the general masses is just yet another reason why they suck.


Everything and everyone can already be tracked from 18,000 feet up.


Then the right way to deal with it is to treat the scooters left in unapproved places as litter and just trash the things, rather than adding to a massive surveillance state.

1 Like

This article is from 2002. I’m sure law enforcement’s ability to collect and use shared data is much better now (and probably leads to a different result for the drivers).

I read the article and it mentioned tracking the device. But it did not say outright that it tracked the device driver.

If data on the device is kept separately than the data on who rented the device then this would not be a case of tracking riders. It would not be an invasion of privacy. Simply a tool to keep track of where the scooters are and how much mileage they reach.

Now it is true, that that data could be connected to the rider but that does not automatically have to happen, based upon the snippet of the law that you posted in this article.

I got a bunch of people at the women’s march to swap WMATA cards just to fuck with the algorithms.

(Don’t do this if you have a monthly pass though!)

1 Like

Send out those Boston Robotics hounds at night to retrieve loose scooters.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.