Lime scooters hacked to play offensive sexual messages to riders

  • TECH
  • Thursday, 25 Apr 2019

Dock-free electric scooters Lime-S by California-based bicycle sharing service Lime are parked for rent in Paris, France, April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Someone’s been up to some mischief in Brisbane: Eight Lime scooters had to be removed from the city’s streets after the scooters’ internal files were hacked to play offensive sexual messages. 

The company’s electric scooters, which are designed to play an audio recording when locked and unlocked, were hacked so that users were confronted with inappropriate messages when starting their trip in the Australian city. 

Footage from local broadcaster 7 News Brisbane showed a row of scooters blaring out the offensive recordings.

Not all of the hacked recordings are quite as explicit, with one other reportedly saying: "No, where you go?" when the scooter was returned. 

The Californian company, which has rapidly been adding fleets of scooters to cities across North America, Europe and Australia, said it was "disappointing" that someone had hacked the scooters’ internal audio files. "It’s not smart, it’s not funny," Lime said in a response to the Brisbane Times

Funny or not, the prank is more than an embarrassment to Lime, and reveals the potential safety risks posed by flawed software in fast-growing mobility startups. 

Lime’s software already came under scrutiny in January when the company’s scooters, which can travel up to 25 kmph, started inadvertently braking and throwing riders off in several cities. 

After numerous reports of injuries, the company later said it had fixed the error and admitted that risks like these, while small, could not be entirely eliminated. – dpa

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