The Real Deal New York

Airbnb agrees to give attorney general a whole host of records

But personal info in site's 15,000 user files will be redacted

May 21, 2014 12:45PM
By David Jones

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airbnb-founders

From left: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Airbnb’s founders

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today reached an agreement with Airbnb over the state’s investigation into the listings at the controversial short-term apartment rental site.

Schneiderman had issued a subpoena demanding the records of more than 15,000 host users to help determine whether the site was in compliance with a law that bans the use of apartments for transient hotel guests.

The agreement calls for personal information, including names, email addresses, user names, social security numbers and other personal information to be redacted, and replaced by unique identifiers. The information will be shared, however, with the New York City Office of Special Enforcement, which regulates the use of these short term apartments.

In a joint statement from the AG’s office and Airbnb, the deal was called an appropriate compromise that balances privacy with the public interest.

“Airbnb and the Office of the Attorney General have worked tirelessly over the past six months to come to an agreement that appropriately balances Attorney General Schneiderman’s commitment to protecting New York’s residents and tourists from illegal hotels with Airbnb’s concerns about the privacy of thousands of other hosts. The arrangement we have reached today for compliance with the OAG subpoena strikes this balance.”

The site, founded in San Francisco in 2008, operates in more than 192 countries and has 11 million users. The company last month closed on $475 million in funding led by TPG Capital and the company was valued at $10 billion.

Airbnb cited data showing it contributes about $21 million in taxes and $768 million in economic activity in New York this year. Management claimed in an earlier study that the site contributed $632 million to New York’s economy from August 2012 to July 2013.

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