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LA wins appeal in data-sharing dispute with Uber’s Jump

Many cities around the world are looking for ways to benefit from dockless scooters and bikes while ensuring safety and reducing disruption. For them and mobility companies, this case is one to watch.

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Los Angeles’ Department of Transportation (LA DOT) was justified in suspending Uber’s licence to rent out scooters and electric bicycles in the city because the company refused to share data on its riders’ trips, a hearing officer has concluded.

 

The data-sharing was a condition of the permit issued to Uber’s subsidiary Jump under LA’s Dockless On-Demand Personal Mobility One Year Pilot Programme.

 

In October, LA DOT suspended Jump’s licence for bikes and scooters and Uber has now lost the appeal against that decision. It says it will appeal again. Users will still be able to rent Jump bikes and scooters for now.

 

What’s the problem?

 

The city mandates that companies provide real-time data on the start point and endpoint of each trip, and the full ride route within 24 hours, via LA’s Mobility Data Specification, in order to monitor for permit violations. Uber has refused to share the data on privacy grounds, arguing it could reveal personal information about riders.

 

David B. Shapiro, the lawyer who heard the appeal, said in his decision that LA DOT had “properly suspended” Uber’s permit for flouting the city’s data-sharing rules and noted that the company had applied for a permit knowing the data-sharing rules were in place.

 

 

In October, LA DOT suspended Jump’s licence for bikes and scooters and Uber has now lost the appeal against that decision.

 

He did add, though, that Uber had not presented any specific instance of reidentification through data “although the abstract concern is real” and that LA DOT had not offered any clear scenarios in which real-time (within five seconds) data was crucial.

 

Pilot

 

An LA DOT spokesperson told SmartCitiesWorld: “LADOT requires for-profit mobility companies to share verifiable data on their vehicles. [This] decision denying Uber’s appeal upholds the city’s common-sense permit requirements, which protect safety and quality of life for LA residents."

 

They noted that the Department’s data-sharing rules specifically prohibit companies from providing user data including names, email addresses or credit card numbers.

 

A spokesperson for Uber told the Los Angeles Times: “We have been clear for months that we have serious privacy concerns about LADOT’s requirements to collect real-time, individual trip data on our riders in Los Angeles.

 

"We believe that best-in-class data aggregation methods could deliver LADOT near-real time data while protecting the identity of Los Angeles residents and our riders.”

 

The Dockless On-Demand Personal Mobility One Year Pilot Programme is due to end in March. Under it, eight companies have permits to operate dockless scooters and bikes in LA, including Bird, Lime and Lyft, making up a fleet of around 36,000 vehicles.

 

Many cities around the world are looking for ways to benefit from dockless scooters and bikes while ensuring safety and reducing disruption. For them and mobility companies, this case is one to watch.

 

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