Written by By Katia Hetter, CNN
DoorDash is suing New York City over a new law that requires the service to warn consumers who have not made an order of exactly how its app works, a claim that the New York Times reports was denied by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.
The new law takes effect August 14, and may result in as many as 50,000 residents obtaining “Gadgets for New Yorkers” codes, that will allow them to order food through DoorDash for free.
The San Francisco-based restaurant delivery service accuses the city of violating the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, “open secret” attorney David Wu said in a phone interview Wednesday.
“Our Electronic Communications Privacy Act rules and protocols prevent government agencies from obtaining electronic communications more than 180 days old,” Wu said. “This is the first lawsuit that we’ve ever filed for violations of one of our privacy rules.”
Additionally, he said, “we’ve been very vocal about the fact that the regulatory mechanism of our laws is outdated, and is something that we believe should be updated.”
City Attorney Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, was silent on the lawsuit Wednesday, and didn’t return a phone call requesting comment.
City officials were unapologetic about the law.
“When it comes to ensuring that the restaurant industry is raising New Yorkers’ quality of life, nothing is off the table,” said Tisa Ellison, the city’s chief consumer affairs officer, in a written statement to CNN.
City officials believe DoorDash’s software violates consumers’ privacy by deliberately failing to transmit to the City’s Office of Information Technology and Telecommunications the name and address of the location where an order was placed, Ellison said.
“We have acknowledged in the past that it is frustrating for anyone who has purchased DoorDash to find out that they have to take extra steps to order food in the future,” DoorDash said in a written statement to CNN. “We have decided to take legal action in the hope that we can sit down with city officials to explore a way to work through this and keep New Yorkers on the move.”
Customers who have made an order would have to take the time to provide their order to DoorDash after it has been shipped, according to the complaint. DoorDash argues that the sharing of the personal data, by requiring the company to notify consumers, amounts to surveillance.
The law, Ellison said, “enforces a code of conduct for DoorDash’s delivery drivers that limits how they interact with customers. At the very least, the legislation will require DoorDash to ensure that its drivers are abiding by it.”
She said the law will “enforce transparency around business practices, and calls on DoorDash to keep its drivers and customers safe by ensuring that they are not aware that DoorDash is actually tracking them.”
DoorDash is an app that allows customers to place orders for food delivered to their door. DoorDash — or similar apps — are used in more than 5,000 cities worldwide, according to the city’s attorney’s office. The idea was to “inject more competition into restaurants and retail, while getting customers their orders faster and for less money,” Ellison said.
San Francisco-based Square, the parent company of Square Cash, also filed a lawsuit Tuesday in California challenging an amendment to California’s transparency and disclosure law, arguing that the new rules would require disclosures for some financial disclosures.