New York A.G. Subpoenas Airbnb For User Data On 15,000 Renters

Tussling with the A.G.

Tussling with the A.G.

On the heels of AirBnB’s apparent triumph in New York City over the right of its users to rent out part of their homes, the company now finds itself caught in the state’s baleful gaze: New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed data from the company as part of an investigation into the website.

According to the New York Daily News, Airbnb had until today to turn over the data, which only includes info on those who rent out their place, and not the users seeking rentals. That would affect about 15,000 of Airbnb’s 225,000 users in the NYC area.

The Wall Street Journal cites a person familiar with matters who says the attorney general is particularly interested in those who rent multiple units or rent their primary residence through Airbnb.

The company’s CEO Brian Chesky tried smoothing things over with lawmakers recently, agreeing that users should collect the same hotel occupancy tax that regular hotels do, as well as pledging to suss out bad renters.

But according to a NYDN source, the company isn’t doing any such thing in private.

“The taxes are already on the books, so that’s a false promise,” the source said. “And they certainly haven’t been cooperating with the investigation, despite their public promises to go after the guys the state is after.”

However Airbnb’s David Hantman posted a blog regarding the subpoena, promising users the company would fight it:

We always want to work with governments to make the Airbnb community stronger, but at this point, this demand is unreasonably broad and we will fight it with everything we’ve got.

But also reiterating that Airbnb has set up a hotline to weed out any bad apples in the basket:

We believe the Attorney General is only seeking to target an incredibly small number of bad actors who abuse the Airbnb platform. That’s a goal we all share. Bad actors like illegal hotel operators and slumlords aren’t part of our vision and have no place on Airbnb and we hope we can work with State leaders to weed out these individuals.

Hantman closes by pledging to keep users informed in the coming days, saying he’s confident Airbnb can “reach a solution that protects your personal information and cracks down on people who abuse the system.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman hits AirBnB with subpoena for user data [New York Daily News]
Fighting for you in New York [Airbnb]
Airbnb Hit With Subpoena From N.Y. Attorney General [Wall Street Journal]