Airbnb’s “new model” for working with cities is to share data about hosts with city government — names, addresses, even the number of nights you rent out the bedroom in your house – may be handed over to your local government under this new model.
Airbnb has arranged to do this in Chicago as well as in New Orleans.
This “new model” represents a 180 degree reversal for Airbnb, which used to stand with hosts against government overreach – Airbnb has actually sued cities, from Anaheim to Santa Monica, to New York and San Francisco – over unreasonable regulations. Now, Airbnb is not only backing down from such regulatory fights, but is actually siding with cities which set up regulations which appear to violate Constitutional protections, such as the right against illegal search and seizure. Airbnb’s Chris Lehane, head of Global Policy for the company, is touting arrangements such as those in Chicago which violate hosts’ privacy, as representing Airbnb’s “new model” for working with cities.
Hosts are so happy about it they are suing the city of Chicago for violations of the US Constitution, such as violations of due process and against illegal search and seizure. Perhaps they should consider suing Airbnb as well, for the same violations? Well Airbnb doesn’t allow users to sue – so – could hosts engage in the arbitration process regarding this issue? The point being – hosts and Airbnb are not aligned on this issue of host privacy, and Airbnb’s “new model” is not compatible with host’s own interests.
From a Skift article about the situation in Chicago:
"Chicago crossed the line into the privacy of people’s homes by imposing sweeping regulations governing Airbnb and other home-sharing services, a lawsuit from a group of current and former Airbnb hosts argues.
Keep Chicago Livable says the ordinance set to take effect in December tramples constitutional rights to freely and anonymously communicate on the internet, use one’s own property, be guaranteed due process, and be protected against illegal search and seizure. The group filed its lawsuit Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“The law requires Airbnb to share with the government all information about its users in Chicago without a warrant, consent, or proof of any crime,” said Shorge Kenneth Sato, an attorney for the group. “Information about who they have as guests, where they live, how much they paid, how long they stayed.”
“All that information is private. Government has no business knowing that,” he said.
It does seem that at the same time that government is crossing a line, Airbnb is crossing the same line, and violating the rights of its users in its chummy agreements with cities. What do hosts feel about this and what will they do in municipalities where this is occurring?