This morning, Airbnb announced a new agreement with the New York State Attorney General over taxes, sharing information from local hosts, and fending off illegal hotel schemes. It comes after more than six months of litigation, potentially putting Airbnb's entire business model under the legal microscope.
AirBnB will share anonymized data with the State
Under the new scheme, every Airbnb host in New York state will be shown a one-page informational sheet informing them of relevant state laws concerning multiple dwelling rentals, taxes, and zoning codes. At the same time, Airbnb will provide the state with anonymized data on all its local hosts, allowing the Attorney General to flag and investigate any hosts that seem to be in violation of the state's housing laws. In exchange, the Attorney General agrees to count that information as satisfying the subpoena it issued in October, which initially asked for much more far-reaching access from non-anonymized data.
The result is a compromise, allowing the government unprecedented access to Airbnb's network, but also providing a template for the company and other room-sharing startups to operate within existing housing laws. In a joint statement between the Attorney General and Airbnb's general counsel, the parties said the agreement "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."