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Waymo Sues California DMV over Information Request

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A Waymo autonomous van

Feb. 1, 2022—Autonomous vehicle company Waymo is suing the California DMV in an attempt to prevent public safety information from being released by designating it as a trade secret.

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, some of the data in question regards how Waymo plans to deal with emergencies in its driverless vehicles, how it would handle vehicles going where they weren't supposed to and descriptions of crashes involving Waymo's vehicles. Access to that information is part of the department's process in issuing permits for AV testing and operation.

The lawsuit itself stems from a public records request in which an individual wanted to see Waymo's deployment application. The DMV allowed Waymo to censor significant portions of the documents, which caused the person who requested the documents to challenge that decision. According to the Times, the lawsuit says the DMV "invited the company to sue the agency."

The move by the DMV essentially shifts the burden of making the decision of what to classify as a trade secret to the courts.

“Every autonomous vehicle company has an obligation to demonstrate the safety of its technology, which is why we’ve transparently and consistently shared data on our safety readiness with the public,” Waymo spokesperson Nicholas Smith in an email to the Times. “We will continue to work with the CA DMV to determine what is appropriate for us to share publicly and hope to find a resolution soon.”

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