A tussle between Ola Electric and a customer who had an accident while riding the company’s electric scooter has escalated into allegations of breach of privacy and integrity of data. The customer has sent a takedown notice to Ola Electric for allegedly violating privacy laws by publishing the scooter’s telemetry data on social media.
The notice is in addition to claims by the customer about the vehicle’s allegedly faulty brakes and has drawn more flak for Ola, which is grappling with the issue of a vehicle catching fire and has recalled over 1,400 electric scooters to conduct 'diagnostic and health check'.
The latest controversy dates back to March 26, when lawyer Reetam Singh was riding his father’s brand new Ola S1 Pro late at night on the Khanapara Highway in Guwahati, Assam. He claimed that he was riding at about 60 kmph when he spotted a speed-breaker. He alleged that when he applied the brakes, the scooter’s speed increased and he lost control of the vehicle.
However, about a month later, Ola Electric tweeted that Reetam Singh was speeding and he braked in panic. The company also put out data to back its claim that Reetam Singh was speeding, triggering protests from the rider, who said he wasn’t present when the company carried out its investigations into the mishap.
“For 10 days, the scooter was with you (Ola Electric). How do I know the data of the scooter was not tampered with during that period? Where is the opportunity to challenge this data? If this was done in my presence — like if they opened the scooter and investigated in front of me — I would not have questioned the legitimacy of the data,” Reetam Singh told Moneycontrol.
“Ola and I signed an agreement to share data only for private access. The posting of telemetry data online is a breach of the privacy agreement between me, the user, and Ola Electric, the seller,” Balwant Singh said in the notice. “I had categorically requested you via tweets to provide the data via email only. But you failed to provide me the same via email but chose to make my data public. Also the data was extracted not in my presence whereby I question the authenticity of the claims.”
Recalling what happened that night after he hit the brakes, Reetam Singh said: “When the speed increased and the scooter went over the bumper, it was airborne for a few seconds. When it hit the ground, the bike toppled. It then skidded for 20-30 metres before stopping at a divider,” Singh said.
What followed was not just the physical trauma of a broken left hand and 16 stitches on the right hand for the 29-year-old lawyer. It also was the start of a tussle with Ola Electric over what actually happened.
After a few weeks, Balwant Singh took to social media to air his concerns over the apparent lack of safety of the electric scooter and the post-accident response from Ola Electric.
Singh in his posts said that an Ola Electric executive contacted him on April 11 after he raised the issue of the allegedly faulty brakes of the vehicle.
“Once they picked up the vehicle on April 11, for 10 days, the vehicle was at their workshop. Neither were we asked to come over there nor was anything informed to us regarding the tests that were taken up on the vehicle,” Reetam Singh said on a phone call. Singh said Ola Electric returned the vehicle on April 21.
“I had asked them to show me a receipt of the vehicle which showed what repairs they did – to which they said the throttle and the brakes had been changed. I had also asked them to send me the investigation report formally over email, to which the Ola Electric representative said that it was proprietary data of Ola and that it cannot be shared,” he said