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L.A. Threatens to Ban Uber-Owned Scooter Service

November 4, 2019, 4:24 PM UTC

Los Angeles has given Uber until Friday to begin providing real-time data on its scooters and bike rentals. If it fails to do so, the city says it will immediately suspend the company’s permit, effectively banning them from the nation’s second largest city.

The ride-share company’s Jump subsidiary has, in turn, threatened to sue the city, calling the data sharing unfair. L.A. officials say Jump competitors, including Bird and Lime, are in compliance with the rules.

As cities across the country become inundated with the short-term rental scooters and bikes, Los Angeles has begun requiring companies to provide data on how they’re being used, tracking all trips from start point to end point within the city.

Officials say they want to determine which companies are flouting bans on riding in certain areas and caps on the number of devices. Uber says that’s governmental overreach.

“Jump riders in Los Angeles have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the trip data created from riding on our bikes and scooters,” the company said in a statement. “Independent privacy experts have clearly and repeatedly asserted that a customer’s geolocation is personally identifiable information, and – consistent with a recent legal opinion by the California legislative counsel – we believe that LADOT’s requirements to share sensitive real-time location data compromises our customers’ expectations of data privacy and security. Therefore, we had no choice but to pursue a legal challenge, and we sincerely hope to arrive at a solution that allows us to provide reasonable data and work constructively with the City of Los Angeles while protecting the privacy of our riders.”

Uber bought Jump last April as part of an effort to expand its services beyond ride sharing. That’s especially key to overseas expansion. In China, for instance, there were more bike-share rides between 2013 and 2017 than there were ride-share rides in the U.S. during the same period.

Uber’s arch rival Lyft also has a bike and scooter sharing service. Lyft has agreed to the data monitoring Los Angeles is requiring to operate in that city.

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