In his ongoing tussle with Airbnb, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has asked for detailed records on 124 hosts in the New York area. And Airbnb has agreed to give them to him.
Airbnb has about 16,000 hosts in New York. In a post explaining the news, Airbnb’s David Hantman writes:
“This request represents an incredibly small fraction of our New York hosting community — far less than 1 per cent.
… nothing about these hosting profiles suggests he is after anyone but individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform.”
The NY AG wants to locate people it believes are running “illegal hotels,” an AG spokesperson told Business Insider in April. In documents to compel the AG to turn over data about its users in April, it says that New York law forbids people to sublet their apartment for less than a month or more.
“It is illegal for residents of Class A buildings to rent out their apartments for any period of time less than 30 days unless they are also present in the apartment,” the documents say.
The AG’s office told us it is not trying to stop people in New York from using the site to rent out a spare room now and then. It’s trying to find hosts with multiple New York listings who are perhaps running a room-renting business without complying with all hotel laws, the spokesperson said.
Airbnb negotiated with the AG and agreed to turn over only anonymous data on its New York hosts. The AG has a year to request details on specific hosts.
Here’s the full post from Airbnb:
I want to provide you the latest update on the New York Attorney General’s investigation into our community here in New York.
As you remember, the New York Attorney General originally requested a full set of data on most of our hosts in New York, and we were concerned that this request was too broad. After some legal wrangling, we agreed to provide the Attorney General anonymized data about approximately 16,000 hosts in New York. This data did not include names, apartment numbers, or other personally-identifiable information, and was designed to present the Attorney General with a full picture of who our community is, and how it operates in New York. Under the agreement, the Attorney General’s Office has one year to review the anonymized data and receive information from us about individual hosts who may be subject to further investigation. You can read more about this agreement here.
Before we reached this agreement, we reviewed our community in New York and removed some bad actors who were providing a low-quality experience or failing to live up to the standards we set for our community.
After we reached this agreement and as this process continued, we became increasingly confident that the Attorney General was truly concerned about a relatively small number of hosts he considered to be “bad actors,” and that the vast majority of our community was never a target of his inquiries. As a result, we came to expect that we would start receiving requests for individual data at a relatively modest level.
This week, that confidence was reinforced as the Attorney General requested unredacted, personal information on 124 individual past and present hosts. The vast majority of these hosts were no longer on our site. The remainder of records requested are all for hosts with multiple listings, and without knowing more about why the Attorney General is interested in those hosts specifically, it is hard to know why they have been targeted.
But two things are clear.
First, this request represents an incredibly small fraction of our New York hosting community — far less than 1 per cent. The vast majority of our hosts are simply renting out their own homes on an occasional basis. The law was never meant to target them, and we now believe the Attorney General did not mean to target regular New Yorkers either.
Second, while the Attorney General’s Office may request additional information in the coming months, nothing about these hosting profiles suggests he is after anyone but individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform.
We have notified each of the 124 hosts subject to this request individually, so if you have not heard from us this week, your information was not requested. As this process progresses, we will continue to strive to be as transparent as possible. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
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