As Airbnb gets ready to overtake Hyatt in value (DealBook says it could soon be worth $10 billion), the controversial apartment-rental site is asking for help in its fight against the New York Attorney General, which issued a subpoena last year requesting the personal data of Airbnb hosts.
With a hearing in the matter scheduled this week, David Hantman, the company’s Head of Public Policy, just sent out a message telling hosts that “we’d soon like to involve you in these discussions with legislators to ensure the sharing economy and Airbnb continue to thrive.”
“We have been seeking an agreeable resolution,” Hantman writes. “One that protects our hosts’ data, but also addresses the Attorney General’s concerns about potential bad actors on our site.” (By bad actors, he presumably means folks who rent Airbnb apartments for orgies.)
Here’s the letter, which also invites Airbnb hosts to a webinar later this week.
We’ve been very busy around the world recently working to clear the path for our hosts with new, better laws, so it has been a while since I’ve written about the situation in New York. I have heard from many of you wanting to know more about discussions with the Attorney General and our progress on fixing the law, so I wanted to give you an update today about where we are, and also to invite you to join me in a webinar later this week where you and other members of our community can ask questions.
When the New York Attorney General issued a subpoena last year for personal data on thousands of our New York hosts, we said very clearly that we intended to fight that overbroad demand with everything we’ve got. We have been hard at work doing just that, including engaging in discussions with the Office of the Attorney General. We have been seeking an agreeable resolution — one that protects our hosts’ data, but also addresses the Attorney General’s concerns about potential bad actors on our site. These discussion are covered by a confidentiality agreement, so I have not been able to keep you as informed as I would have liked, and that has not changed.
Meanwhile, we have also continued to fight for a fair, progressive law that makes it easier for New Yorkers to share the home in which they live, and we will soon need your help.
As many of you already know (and as I have discussed many times), when the New York law against illegal hotels was passed a few years ago, it was drafted far too broadly. Regular New Yorkers occasionally renting out their own homes were never the targets of the law, but some provisions of the new regulations put them at risk nevertheless.
The New York law was designed to crack down on businesses that were converting multiple apartments — and even entire buildings — into illegal hotels. Shutting down these bad actors is a goal we all share, but it is also our responsibility to help our community stand up for fixing the law so it doesn’t go too far. We continue to have productive conversations with legislators and civic leaders and we’d soon like to involve you in these discussions with legislators to ensure the sharing economy and Airbnb continue to thrive.
I will be hosting a webinar later this week to take questions from our community, and I hope you’ll join me to share your thoughts and concerns. RSVP here.
Head of Public Policy