NY's Attorney General Demands All Data On NYC AirBNB Rentals

from the chilling-effects dept

What is it with states attorneys general and their attacks on innovation? The latest news is that NY’s AG, Eric Schneiderman, is demanding data from AirBnB on all 15,000 users in NYC who have rented out their place. This comes after a ruling back in May saying that an apartment owner renting out his place was guilty of running an illegal hotel (that was just overturned). Of course, the very day that original ruling happened, I’d been trying to rent a place in NYC on AirBnB — and I even had a guy who had agreed to rent me the place pull back, saying that because of the legal issues he was removing his apartment from the site. I’m about to go to NYC again, and have another AirBnB place lined up — but am now nervous that this one, too, will disappear.

The NY AG’s office claims that they’re only going after a small number of “bad” AirBnB users, mainly “landlords doing long-term illegal rentals,” but if that’s the case, why does it need information on 15,000 users. If anything, that’s going to create massive chilling effects. Services like AirBnB provide tremendous amount of value on both sides of the equation — homeowners are able to make extra cash (sometimes significant amounts) while travelers are able to rent out nice places at lower rates than hotels. It’s a good deal that’s pretty efficient across the board. The NY AG’s office claims that this leaves out neighbors who may be impacted, but it seems like there are much better ways to deal with neighbor problems than having to go trolling through all of AirBnB’s records.

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Companies: airbnb

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Comments on “NY's Attorney General Demands All Data On NYC AirBNB Rentals”

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12 Comments
Paraquat (profile) says:

fighting terrorism

The government needs AirBnB’s records to fight terrorism. If they had that info back in 2001, the World Trade Center would never have been destroyed. Bin Laden uses AirBnB, sends his emails via LavaBit, uses open-source software (thus violating Microsoft’s software patents), and sings “Happy Birthday” without paying copyright royalties. Only when these are banned worldwide will we be safe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: fighting terrorism

Actually, maybe this is to do with the War on Terrorism. I imagine it’s much harder to surreptitiously gather guest records from some random homeowner than it is from an established business.

The goal here was clearly not to act silently (otherwise they would’ve used a gag order), but to try to discourage people from using services that don’t cooperate with the NSA/Homeland Security/etc.
A bit anti-competitive there, but I suppose capitalism is a small sacrifice in the eternal war against Terror.

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