Law Street Media

Jump Sues Los Angeles for Requiring Real-Time Geolocation Data

Two cyclists ride on a country road overlooking a city.

Shot of two sporty young women out cycling on a country road

Plaintiff Social Bicycles, better known as e-bike provider JUMP, has filed a complaint against the City of Los Angeles. JUMP has sued after the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) attempted to obtain “personal geolocation data about individual Angelenos as they go about their daily lives.” The suit is filed in the California Central District Court. JUMP is represented by Cohen Williams.

JUMP owns and makes “GPS-enabled electric scooters and pedal-assist bikes that riders can locate on their smartphones, rent for short periods of time, and use to complete short trips that might otherwise occur in a car.” Los Angeles and LADOT require JUMP and other operators to provide “precise time-stamped geolocation data that tracks the location of their e-bikes and e-scooters in real time while riders are on them.”

The plaintiffs state that while this location data is not directly connected to identifying information, this information can be used to identify individuals, by examining a users’ travel patterns and “re-identifying” them. JUMP further argues that “if seized in real time, this confidential and sensitive geolocation data enables LADOT to electronically surveil dockless mobility users on a massive scale while they are on a trip.”

JUMP alleges that LADOT could not provide any reasoning for its policy. They state that “[r]eal-time in-trip geolocation data does not assist the City in planning bike lanes, or figuring out deployment patterns in different neighborhoods, or dealing with complaints about devices that are parked in the wrong place, or monitoring compliance with permit requirements. It is a tool for surveillance.”  Private consultants engaged by LADOT allegedly created the dockless mobility program and data seizure plan, which JUMP argues is a marketing and financial scheme to allow the consultant to profit from its use in other locations and to be able to use the data themselves.

JUMP informed LADOT that it found the data request troubling, and after both refused to budge, JUMP now provides the start location, end location, and route data with a 24-hour lag time. As a result, LADOT suspended JUMP’s permit for its failure to comply and provide real-time data; JUMP claims that this is unlawful. JUMP was given 72 hours to remove its fleet. JUMP notified LADOT that it was seeking emergency judicial relief; LADOT then performed an administrative review process, during which time JUMP could still operate. JUMP argued that LADOT violated its Fourth Amendment rights and California’s Electronic Communications Privacy Act. JUMP’s suspension was upheld after the review process. JUMP was allowed to file for a six-month extension permit, for which JUMP must comply with the data rules.

JUMP is challenging this requirement and the actions taken to enforce it. JUMP states that the California Legislative Counsel Bureau concluded that LADOT’s requirements violated the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA). For example, “CalECPA restricts a department of a city or county from requiring a business that rents dockless bikes, scooters…to the public to provide the department with real-time location data from its dockless shared mobility devices as a condition of granting a permit to operate in the department’s jurisdiction.”

JUMP alleges that LADOT has violated its Fourth Amendment rights, Article 1, Section 13 of the California State Constitution, CalECPA, and California’s non-delegation doctrine. JUMP has sought declaratory and injunctive relief and an award for costs and any other relief determined by the court. 

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