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L.A. Lawsuit Argues Collection of E-Scooter Location Data Is Unconstitutional

Published on Jun 9, 2020 at 10:57 am in Electric Scooters.

E-scooter on road

The ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation have filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles, claiming e-scooter and bike riders should have the freedom to travel without being tracked. They believe the collection of location data is unconstitutional.

The Mobility Data Specification system, which was created by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation in 2018, is the subject of scrutiny. The system gathers an array of data on the use of shared mobility services, including scooters, bikes, mopeds, and carshares.

Currently, the system is used by dozens of cities in the United States and other countries. The data collected includes the times and locations of when and where trips start and finish, as well as what routes are taken in between. The information can be viewed historically, with some data points available in real-time.

The lawsuit alleges the system makes it easy to extrapolate a person’s identity from the scooter data. According to Hannah Zhao, an EFF staff attorney, “The government has never been privy to such granular data before without doing more work. That is to say, without some sort of court order or subpoena, or some other authorization that allows them to see this data.”

The Mobility Data Specification system was created after a flood of scooters appeared in Los Angeles in late 2017. Now, it’s a requirement for mobility companies seeking to do business to track location data. Some companies, however, have criticized using such a system, arguing that the privacy rights of their users are at stake. According to Uber, “The mass collection of precise geolocation data by government agencies deeply compromises consumer privacy. We continue to call on LADOT to respect the shared concerns of consumers, industry, and privacy advocates, and to stop tracking their constituents.”

The lawsuit is demanding the court declare the collection of precise location data via the Mobility Data Specification system as a violation of the U.S. constitution, in addition to the California Electronic Communications Privacy Act. The suit always calls for an injunction that would force the Los Angeles Department of Transportation to delete all of the data is has collected and to stop gathering any more.

For information on what’s currently happening in the rideshare industry, click here to view our blog. In the event you’re involved in an e-scooter accident and are now dealing with the physical and financial ramifications, the Rideshare Law Group may be able to help. We represent rideshare accident victims on a nationwide basis and help them file personal injury claims to seek compensation for their losses. Contact us today to learn more.