Last week, Airbnb filed a complaint challenging the city’s new ordinance requiring homesharing platforms to share data about hosts and guests to the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement. According to Airbnb, the new ordinance allows the city to collect wide-ranging categories of non-public information:
“[T]he Ordinance requires Internet homesharing platforms to turn over personal information about their hosts, much of which is not made public through the platforms. The Ordinance also requires homesharing platforms to turn over their own non-public and commercially sensitive information, including detailed breakdowns of revenues and technical information about listings. To the extent a platform collects rent, it is also required to hand over highly sensitive bank account information about how guests choose to pay and how much. All of this is data the Office of Special Enforcement could not otherwise obtain without precompliance review, and the Ordinance permits that agency to use and share the data however and whenever it chooses, without any meaningful limitation. In so doing, the Ordinance breaches critical privacy protections both for homesharing platforms like Airbnb and for the New Yorkers who share their homes on these platforms. Put another way, the Homesharing Surveillance Ordinance requires Airbnb to report on a monthly basis volumes of otherwise private information about who New Yorkers choose to invite into their homes, where those homes are located, when and for how long the guests stay, and what the guests are doing there.
According to Airbnb, the ordinance is the result of a lobbying effort by New York’s hotel industry to prevent competition from homesharing sites.
The complaint asks for injunctive relief, claiming that the new ordinance violates the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, and the federal Stored Communications Act.
The case is currently pending before Judge Engelmayer.