City Of Los Angeles Prevails In Ninth Circuit E-Scooter Appeal, Supported By GMSR’s Amicus Brief

Faced with a near-overnight proliferation of motorized electric scooters on sidewalks and streets, the City of Los Angeles required e-scooter companies (e.g., Bird, Lime, and Lyft) to provide vehicle location data through a widely-used national interface called Mobility Data Specification.  An e-scooter user sued the City, alleging that the data collection violated the Fourth Amendment and California law.  The district court found the data-collection program lawful and dismissed plaintiff’s suit.  It found that the City’s program was not a search under the Fourth Amendment because plaintiff had no reasonable expectation of privacy over anonymous location data.

Supporting the City on appeal, GMSR filed an amicus brief for the Open Mobility Foundation, a non-profit whose members include cities and transportation authorities, mobility operators, and software vendors.  GMSR’s brief provided context and case studies to show how the Mobility Data Specification interface enables public entities to fulfill their duty to regulate the public right-of-way, decide their infrastructure needs, and make other public policy decisions.

This week, the Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of the case, holding, among other things, that the City’s program does not violate the Fourth Amendment or the California Constitution.  Central to the Court’s decision was that plaintiff “affirmatively chose to disclose location data to e-scooter operators each time he rented a device.”  Because he knowingly and voluntarily disclosed location data to the e-scooter operators, he had no reasonable expectation of privacy.  The Court also observed that the anonymous, point-to-point location data collected by the Mobile Data Specification is “far afield from the dragnet, continuous monitoring of an identified individual’s movements” that are at issue in cases that the plaintiff relied on.

Click HERE to read the Court of Appeals’ opinion:  Sanchez v. L.A. Dep’t of Transp., 35 F.4th 721 (9th Cir. 2022)

Alana Rotter

In The News:

Collection, Disclosure of E-Scooter Data Is Not a Search, Metropolitan News-Enterprise:

LA’s E-Scooter Location Collection Passes Constitutional Test, Bloomberg Law:

LA Can Track E-Scooter Movements, 9th Circuit Says, FindLaw: