Data amassed by bike-sharing firms needs to be safeguarded

News about bike-sharing companies exiting the business in Singapore and other cities around the world of late raises another concern - that of the data such firms collect on users in the course of their operations.

They not only lease bikes to users, but also track customers closely. They collect data on customer behaviour, such as where they travel to, when and how often, as well as other transactions they do with the registered credit cards.

Such information is in addition to the personal data collected.

There is a possibility that the firms could be "sharing" the data with other interested businesses for mutual benefit.

In this regard, my concern is whether such operators should be overseen only by the Land Transport Authority.

Shouldn't they also come under the purview of the other authorities, such as the Info-communications Media Development Authority and the Ministry of Communications and Information?

The data-sharing these companies undertake should also be strictly monitored. After all, the bike-sharing platform is quite similar to social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Data is a big revenue generator. It is important to monitor how it is shared and who get their hands on such data.

We must have comprehensive control and regulations on these companies to prevent any abuse.

Ramamurthy Mahesh Kumar

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2018, with the headline 'Data amassed by bike-sharing firms needs to be safeguarded'. Print Edition | Subscribe