As you probably know, the New York Attorney General recently issued a second subpoena demanding personal information about thousands of Airbnb hosts in New York. This morning, we announced that we have reached an agreement that we believe appropriately balances the Attorney General’s stated objectives of going after illegal hotels, while protecting as much of our hosts’ personal data as possible.
It took a long time to reach this agreement, with lots of hard work on both sides, and I want to make sure you heard from me about how we got here, what we believe, and what this means for our community in New York.
We first received a demand for data from the New York Attorney General last fall, and we strongly believed that the demand was overbroad. We began months of discussions with the Attorney General’s office to voice our strong concerns and to try to resolve the matter without turning over data on our community, and when those discussions didn’t lead to an agreement, we challenged the subpoena in the New York State Supreme Court. Last week, a judge in Albany agreed that the Attorney General’s demand was overbroad.
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. So the very next day, the Attorney General submitted such a narrowed subpoena.
We wanted to do everything we could to avoid turning over data on thousands of regular New Yorkers, so we continued to work with the Attorney General’s Office and we now believe we have reached an agreement that will protect the privacy of thousands of Airbnb hosts, while allowing the Attorney General to investigate bad actors and move us forward.
Under the terms of the agreement we announced today:
- Airbnb will provide the Attorney General with anonymized data about our hosts in New York. This data will not include names, apartment numbers, or other personally-identifiable information.
- The Attorney General’s Office will have one year to review the anonymized data and receive information from us about individual hosts who may be subject to further investigation. We believe the Attorney General’s Office is focused on large corporate property managers and hosts who take apartments off the market and disrupt communities. We have already removed more than 2,000 listings in New York and believe that many of the hosts the Attorney General is concerned about are no longer a part of Airbnb.
- We will provide even more information to hosts about the laws in New York. Hosts will see additional information before they list their space and we’ll email every host in New York with information about the law.
We believe that this is a strong agreement that best protects our community’s data and sets us on a positive path forward.
We are committed to working with leaders in New York and around the world to ensure they know more about home-sharing and how it makes neighborhoods better places to live, work and visit. And I know that our hosts and guests are committed to this kind of collaborative, constructive dialogue as well. We are pleased that we reached this agreement, but we know there is so much yet to be done. For instance, the law that made this investigation possible is still on the books, and we need to change that law to allow anyone in New York who wants to rent out their own home to do so. And we need to show the world how truly amazing our hosting community is for New York and for other cities around the globe.