German City Wants Names And Addresses Of Airbnb Hosts; Chinese Province Demands Full Details Of Every Guest Too

from the sharing,-but-not-like-that dept

Online services like Airbnb and Uber like to style themselves as part of the “sharing economy”. In truth, they are just new twists on the rental sector, taking advantage of the Internet’s widespread availability to broaden participation and ease negotiation. This has led to a tension between the online services and traditional local regulators, something Techdirt noted in the US, back in 2016. Similar battles are still being fought around the world. Here’s what is happening in Germany, as reported by

The City of Munich asked Airbnb to provide it with all advertisements for rooms in the city which exceeded the permissible maximum lease period [of eight weeks in a calendar year]. Specifically, for the period from January 2017 to July 2018, it wanted Airbnb to disclose the addresses of the apartments offered as well as the names and addresses of the hosts.

Airbnb challenged the request before the administrative court in Munich, which has just ruled that the US company must comply with German laws, even though its European office is based in Ireland. It said that the request was lawful, and did not conflict with the EU’s privacy regulations. Finally, it ruled that the City of Munich’s threat to impose a €300,000 fine on Airbnb if it did not comply with its information request was also perfectly OK. Presumably Airbnb will appeal against the decision, but if it is confirmed it could encourage other cities in Germany to make similar requests. At least things there aren’t as bad as in China. According to a post from TechNode:

The eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang will require online home-sharing platforms, including Airbnb, to report owner and guest information to the province’s Public Security Department. The platforms will need to check, register, and report the identity of both parties, including the time the guest plans to arrive and leave the property.

That information provides a very handy way of keeping tabs on people travelling around the province who stay in Airbnb properties and the like. It’s yet another example of how the Chinese authorities are forcing digital services to help keep an eye on every aspect of citizens’ lives.

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Companies: airbnb

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Comments on “German City Wants Names And Addresses Of Airbnb Hosts; Chinese Province Demands Full Details Of Every Guest Too”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: If doing "business" in a locale, then subject to local rules

“Why this piece? It could only be if NEW or surprising”

Why this comment? You appear to be whining about the same thing.

But, seriously – the information in these two arguments are new – specifically because the laws in those places have been changed IN RESPONSE TO AirBnB. It would be equally newsworthy if they’d changed it because they noticed they need competent mental healthcare professions in your area, as poorly served as it clearly is.

“I suppose that the usual know-it-alls will pop in to say “Nuhn’t uh! No office in country means IMMUNE from their laws!””

Well, no, because the only people who ever say that are the straw men in your head, and they can’t post on the internet, not being real and all.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Chinese government action is not new. The current law requires all hotels to collect identifying information for each guest, like scanning a passport, and sending it to the government. Anyone not staying in a hotel is required to report where they are staying to the local police office. This is automating the current process for Airbnb hosts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What is not clear is if you still need to report your stay to the local police if you stay at an Airbnb. For my last three trips my fiancé and I would go to first the local police station and then the city police station to register my stay. We both need to go together as I show my passport and she shows her household registration, houkou.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Are your ducts old and tired?

The problem with building giant haystacks is that while they allow backtracking of someones activities, they are largely useless for predicting what someone will do unless they are already under suspicion, and a high priority for keeping tabs on.

Just look at how often someone committing a terrorist incident was known to the authorities, but nobody was actually looking at them when they prepared and carried out an act of terrorism. The authorities can usually piece to gathered how the act was carried out after the event by going back through all the data they has collected.

Anonymous Coward says:

So a legal entity within the EU (City of Munich) asked a company doing business within that same city to disclose specific information about people who may have actually breached its laws designed to regulate online home sharing. Not the guests – the hosts. That request was deemed appropriate by a court.

I cannot see how this is any cause for concern, let alone a stub article here.

Tying the story to the Chinese government’s rapacious data collection on the perfectly legal activities of visitors and citizens is just ridiculous.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“I cannot see how this is any cause for concern, let alone a stub article here”

There appears to be a crackdown on businesses that believe they are operating perfectly legally, but get special negative treatment when they start disrupting the business models of incumbent players, even when the new models clearly benefit the average consumer.

You may disagree with this interpretation, but the fact it appears to be happening is worthy of discussion.

Peter (profile) says:

Tempting as it may be to bash the snoopers,

many countries require hotel guests to register with a passport, and hotels to share the registration information with the authorities.

If people don’t have an issue with those Hotel requirements (even though they should, really!), then it is hard to blame authorities requesting similar information for digital platforms.

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