by Inline Policy on 22 May 2014
Following a revised subpoena from the New York state Attorney General requesting the personal details of hosts who use Airbnb for short-term rentals, both sides have reached an agreement. Under the agreement Airbnb will provide the Attorney General with anonymised aggregate data on their hosts in New York. This data will initially not include names, addresses or other personally-identifiable information.
However, New York regulators will have one year to review the data and request to receive further information from Airbnb about individual hosts who may be subject to an investigation. This means that thousands of New Yorkers who currently unlawfully rent out their homes using Airbnb may be exposed to legal action in the future.
Airbnb maintains that this agreement is the right balance between combatting illegal activity and protecting hosts’ privacy. Whether New York state regulators choose to aggressively pursue hosts in the future could eventually dictate whether the Airbnb community of hosts in New York are in agreement.
In a broader context, this agreement between Airbnb and the New York state Attorney General could establish a precedent in both the United States and internationally. Short-term rentals have faced heightened regulatory scrutiny in San Francisco and Portland, as well as further afield in Berlin and more recently in France.
New York is one of Airbnb’s biggest markets and undoubtedly many regulators will watch how regulators act on the information they receive over the next year. This agreement leaves many short-term rental hosts open for legal investigation and starts a new chapter in the struggle between disruptive short-term rental platforms and established companies in the accommodation sector.
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