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Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General 149

Peer-to-peer lodging service Airbnb has agreed to hand over data on 124 of its hosts in New York as part of an investigation by the state's Attorney General into the operation of illegal hotels. The AG first requested data for almost all of Airbnb's hosts in the state, but after "legal wrangling," that number was whittled down to the current 124. The data in question will be unredacted personal information, meaning names and addresses. In a blog post, Airbnb's David Hantman said, "nothing about these hosting profiles suggests [the Attorney General] is after anyone but individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform." Airbnb is confident that the targets of this request are hosts considered to be "bad actors," but they don't explain what classifies somebody as a "bad actor."
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Airbnb To Hand Over Data On 124 Hosts To New York Attorney General

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  • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:17AM (#47745621)

    It's whoever we say and whoever doesn't have the means to buy us.

  • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:22AM (#47745631)

    It's basically just politicians who are kowtowing to an industry that doesn't want more competition than it already has.

  • Avoid New York (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NaCh0 ( 6124 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:36AM (#47745667)

    Every time I see a story like this or the problems Tesla has in NY, I can't help but think of the "New York is open for business" commercials flooded on the TV news channels. One of the most taxed and regulated states in the nation claiming to be business friendly.

    Fuck Noo Yawk.

  • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @01:40AM (#47745675)

    depends on the situation. There is government being overly strict/arseholes, then there is government doing what it is supposed to do, which is ensuring hotels are all following the regulations required for hotels. If they are doing the former then it sucks, but I suspect it is the later they are chasing. I personally find it hard to fault them if what they are doing is chasing people that are blatantly ignoring the laws for insurance, health and safety etc when it comes to hotel accommodation.

  • by Rick in China ( 2934527 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @02:06AM (#47745757)

    It's similar to Uber's situation with individuals providing rides in their own vehicles to people who want rides. Do you think that a private arrangement between two individuals to allow someone to stay in a room or apartment or whatever belonging to another in exchange for some cash means that the room/apartment or whatever needs to abide by the same heavy regulations as a hotel? The government has 2 pressures and incentives here: hotel/lodging lobbyists, not getting their tax revenue. If you really think they're doing this from a perspective of public safety, I think we'd just have to disagree.

  • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @02:27AM (#47745805)

    Just because you think a law is "silly" does not mean that it is. All you are doing is giving a newcomer a financial advantage over established businesses. So when the new business harms the old business and can not handle the additional taxes and regulations when they are imposed you have less supply not more.

  • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @04:08AM (#47745971)

    There are some who rent out a room in their home occasionally. With proper regulation that should be allowed. There are others who rent apartments specifically to rent out as a short term rental. These are the ones that need to comply with the complete hotel rules. Registered bed and breakfasts have to comply with ruled why shouldn't Airbnb poster have to comply with those regulations as well?

    You're saying that if I make arrangements with someone to allow them to stay in a spare room and they give me $30 a night, I need to adhere to all regulations a full fledged hotel would have to.

    Are you paying taxes on the income? Do you have adequate parking for that tenant?
    Will you say a different story when someone is burned to death because there was no fire alarm system which a hotel is required to have but a private residence is not?

    There are two different scenarios we are talking about; spare room rental and short term apartment sublet. The former should be allowed with minimal regulation. The latter needs to be watched very closely.

  • Re:Bad actors? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @04:58AM (#47746083)

    What innovation? Renting out your room or apartment is not new or innovative. Connecting supply and demand using the Internet is not new or innovative. What's innovative about AirBnB and Uber and the likes is figuring out how to do something blatantly illegal to gain a competitive advantage over legitimate businesses that do follow rules and regulations (which in many cases exist for very good reasons), without getting immediately shut down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @05:21AM (#47746161)

    During the last year of negotiations with the NY AG (Eric Schneiderman), AirBnB offered to remit taxes on the hosts' behalf, as they have done in other markets (such as San Francisco). The AG rejected this proposal. Why? Because it's not about taxes, it's about killing any possible competition the large hotels in NYC face. In fact, Schneiderman has surrounded himself with people who have heavy ties to the hotel industry, and has accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from hotel lobbies.

    It's inconvenient, but it's true. The NY State government's actions are, yet again, predatory and anticompetitive.

  • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @06:00AM (#47746269)

    Unless you are saying the requirements for a hotel are safer, in which case why not regulate so that everyone can live in a fire safe dwelling?

    The requirements for a hotel should be stricter. If you are renting a room for the night, you should not have to check the batteries in the fire alarm. If you have a three year lease on an apartment, it is reasonable for that to be your responsibility, rather than the landlords.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @07:59AM (#47746583)

    They're "kowtowing" to an industry that has to follow regulations and therefore feels at an unfair disadvantage to players that eschew regulations (fire safety, hygiene, registration requirements, etc.). With that perspective, it should be easy to see who the bad actors are in principle: People who run hotels without following the regulations under the disguise of renting out rooms in their homes. It says as much in the blurb. There certainly is a gray area, but 124 hosts in NYC looks like they're only going after obvious cases.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 25, 2014 @09:12AM (#47746933)

    Fire safety, hygiene and registration requirements are "not applicable" if you're running a small hotel? We're not talking about amenities like spa, wifi and a 24h reception. You can't put your guests in danger just so you can "get in at the ground floor" and compete with "real" hotels.

  • Re:Bad actors? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nblender ( 741424 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @11:27AM (#47748139)

    It can be argued that bylaws and residential restrictions are a form of HOA.. It really should be "if you want to do whatever you want with your own property, live out in the country" but even in the country, there are rules about what you can and can't do. As long as you live near other people and services, there are valid restrictions about what you can and can't do with your private property. Suck it up, buttercup.

  • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Monday August 25, 2014 @12:25PM (#47748725) Homepage Journal

    I've had one negative experience with AirBnB. It wasn't terrible, more disorganized than dangerous, and it's only one out of over a dozen excellent experiences, but that sounds about right: a very small percentage of problems. 124 in New York City also sounds about right for the worst-of-the-worst.

    In other words: no, not widespread, but if you can eliminate the few bad actors it increases overall confidence in the system. And if it decreases slightly the hostility from the industry they're trying to displace, it's better for the customer. The only losers in that are those who have been bad, and I just don't see anything wrong with that.

Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced -- even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. -- John Keats