Home renting company Airbnb announced Wednesday that under pressure from the New York attorney general’s office, it will hand over the anonymized personal data of its New York hosts to the state. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed three years’ worth of data in 2013 in an effort to suss out whether Airbnb users are running “illegal hotels” and to determine if Airbnb’s business model and platform comply with the law.
Schneiderman stated his suspicions in April that Airbnb hosts in New York operate residences or parts of their homes like hotels—but without the fire, safety, and tax regulations normally applied to hotels. Airbnb hosts could also be in violation of a 2010 law that prohibits New Yorkers from renting entire apartments for less than 29 consecutive days. Schneiderman claimed that Airbnb sells itself to investors as a hotel network, but it attempts to keep that pitch out of the public sphere for fear of incurring legal hotel status.
The New York Supreme Court rejected Schneiderman’s subpoena request on May 13, “but the judge’s ruling also made it clear that he would accept a new, narrower subpoena and require Airbnb to turn over personal information about hosts if the Attorney General’s Office made some changes to their demands,” wrote Airbnb in its blog post Wednesday.
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