Endorsing the Privacy Principles for Mobility Data

October 27, 2021

Over the past year, people representing cities, mobility service providers, technology companies, privacy advocates, and scholars have been working to co-create the Privacy Principles for Mobility Data. Today, the Open Mobility Foundation proudly endorses them. 

“By endorsing the Privacy Principles for Mobility Data, the Open Mobility Foundation is making a commitment to working in good faith to put them into practice, both in the Foundation’s work, and also within the broader community.”


– Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Executive Director of the Open Mobility Foundation


The Privacy Principles for Mobility Data are a set of values and priorities intended to guide the mobility ecosystem in the responsible use of data and the protection of individual privacy. Developed through a collaboration organized by NUMO (the New Urban Mobility alliance), NABSA (the North American Bikeshare Association), and the Open Mobility Foundation (OMF), the Principles are meant to serve as a guiding “north star” to assess technical and policy decisions that have implications for privacy when handling mobility data.

Increasingly, organizations across the mobility ecosystem are faced with choices and decisions that have data privacy implications. For organizations using mobility data, these principles provide a baseline framework to both identify and address these situations.

“We need these principles to align around our shared values and priorities, and encourage thoughtful discussion and action that enhances mobility data privacy.”


– Chris Warner, Director of Portland Bureau of Transportation & Board Member of the Open Mobility Foundation

The seven Principles are:

  1. We will uphold the rights of individuals to privacy in their movements
  2. We will ensure community engagement and input, especially from those that have been historically marginalized, as we define our purposes, practices, and policies related to mobility data
  3. We will clearly and specifically define our purposes for working with mobility data
  4. We will communicate our purposes, practices, and policies around mobility data to the people, communities, and customers we serve
  5. We will collect and retain the minimum amount of mobility data that is necessary to fulfill our purposes
  6. We will establish policies and practices that protect mobility data privacy
  7. We will protect privacy when sharing mobility data

Learn more about the Principles, including some ideas for how to put each into practice at: mobilitydataprivacyprinciples.org


While the OMF does not handle mobility data directly, our mission to develop digital tools and convene organizations means we play a unique role in promoting privacy best practices in the mobility ecosystem. Since our founding two years ago, we’ve invested in our own mobility data privacy practices and provided privacy resources for our members. This work has closely aligned with the Principles. For example:

Principle: Define our purposes for working with mobility data
From developing and maintaining a public use case database for MDS, to kicking off each Curb Management Working Group meeting with a presentation about the purpose for building the specification, we continue to work toward centering the “why” in everything we do. In fact, we’ve even built this into our open source process, evaluating each proposed new feature against a clear and specific defined purpose as a means of deciding what changes should be made to the tools we build.

Principle: Communicate our purposes, practices, and policies around mobility data to the people and communities we serve
Last year, OMF’s Privacy, Security, and Transparency Committee created a public catalogue of policy and technical resources related to the handling and protection of MDS and other types of mobility data to help cities develop their own policies around data privacy, security, and transparency. This state of practice organizes and links out to a variety of helpful resources and examples of the way cities in the OMF community are communicating their purposes, practice, and policies to the public. It includes resources in categories like: privacy principles, policies, and guidelines, permit & licensing requirements, data sharing, data processing, aggregation and anonymization, risk assessment, and more.

And, OMF member organizations lead the way in some of these areas. Specifically:

Principle: Establish policies and practices that protect mobility data privacy
Another major accomplishment of the Privacy, Security, and Transparency Committee was developing and launching the MDS Privacy Guide for Cities. Building on the best practices and policies of cities using MDS, the Privacy Guide for Cities offers a starting point to develop appropriate standards, make policy decisions, and implement new mobility programs with data privacy and security well-protected. This comprehensive guide is a great practical resource for cities of all sizes and stages working with MDS or mobility data in general.


Now that the Principles have been developed and launched, the work to put them into practice continues. The Open Mobility Foundation looks forward to using them as a discussion and evaluation tool for future privacy-focused initiatives and the development of mobility management tools, like MDS and the forthcoming Curb Data Specification (CDS). We also look forward to serving as a community space for cities and companies alike to share privacy resources, discuss challenges, and develop best practices that reflect our shared values.

To learn more about the Principles and what it means to endorse them, visit mobilitydataprivacyprincioples.org.

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