Let’s Share Data

I just read an article where some local governments are considering requiring private companies to share data they have acquired as an adjunct to their activities. Uber and Lyft are fighting the legislation.

The ne’er do wells. How dare these companies spend billions developing a business and then not give away information they have acquired to their competitors and to the local governments. How can they be so selfish?

My guess is that those promoting these ideas never had to make a payroll.

For example, in San Francisco, one of the 10 guiding principles that must be met by all mobility service providers is in the area of accountability: “Service Providers must share data for the city and public to determine the services’ benefits and impacts on transport and whether or not the services’ meet the city and county’s transport goals.” However, legislation addressing data sharing is not without controversy, as evidenced by the rules proposed by the District of Columbia:

A log of trips performed by private vehicle-for-hire operators utilizing the digital dispatch services of the private vehicle-for-hire company in the District, including, for each trip, the point of origin and destination, the date and time of pick-up and drop-off, the stationary time at pick-up and drop-off, the fare paid, whether the trip was on a private or shared service, and the number of passengers in the vehicle.4

Uber and Lyft fought against this draft legislation. Arguments on the other side were that data can be shared with a city of regional government without releasing it to competitors.

If cities want the data, fine. Let them either collect it themselves or pay for it. Uber and Lyft are using that data to refine their operations and make their services better for their customers, thus increasing their volume and then, shudder, profits.

Then there is the competitor’s issue. I have determined that I can parse my data in such a way that it helps me create a better company. My competitor has not. Am I supposed to give that information to my competition? Am I to believe that the government can keep a secret? Please…


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