Otonomo Driver Tracking Suit Removed to California Federal Court

Defendant Otonomo Inc., a “data broker” that allegedly collects certain cars’ data, including their real-time GPS location, has removed a class action brought by California drivers who claim that the company unlawfully tracks their movements without permission.

According to last week’s removal notice, Otonomo asserts that the suit, filed last month in San Francisco County Superior Court, belongs in federal court, specifically the Northern District of California because of the existence of diversity jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.

The lawsuit contends that Otonomo secretly collects and sells real-time info to “scores of unknown third parties,” allowing those entities to “pinpoint consumers’ precise locations at all times of day and gain specific insight about where they live, work, and worship, and who they associate with.”

According to the nine-page complaint, the defendant never asks or receives consent for tracking drivers and obtains access through partnerships with at least 16 car manufacturers, including BMW, General Motors, Ford, and Toyota. Further, the installed device reportedly receives data “through a secret ‘always on’ cellular data connection.”

The filing specifies that the plaintiff is a California resident who drives a 2020 BMW X3 purportedly containing an attached tracking device that allows the defendant to track its real-time GPS location and transmit it wirelessly to Otonomo.

The lawsuit states a single cause of action for violation of the California Invasion of Privacy Act (CIPA), which purportedly bars the use of electronic devices to track a person’s movement or location without consent. The driver seeks to represent a class of tens of thousands of individuals in California “who own or lease a vehicle and whose GPS data has been collected by Otonomo.”

The complaint asks for injunctive relief and damages, including possible statutory damages of $5,000 for each CIPA violation. The plaintiff is represented by Edelson PC and Otonomo by Latham & Watkins LLP.