The state of New York has demanded that Airbnb, the site that helps people turn their apartments into temporary hotel rooms, turn over personal information on tens of thousands of users.
It’s part of New York’s continuing crackdown on the site, which the state says violates a 2010 ban on unlicensed hotels.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed the site for users’ information Monday, according to the New York Daily News. Airbnb has 225,000 users in the state; its New York operations rest entirely within the confines of New York City’s five boroughs. However, the state’s only looking for information of the site’s roughly 15,000 active workers, the Daily News reported, a number that a person familiar with the investigation confirmed to the Daily Dot.
While refusing to give specifics of what user information the subpoena requests, the source said the Attorney General’s office is “looking for information about property managers or brokers who are skirting the law by renting multiple units, or people who rent their primary unit for large amounts of time throughout the year” and isn’t “targeting the casual user who may rent their personal apartment out while are on vacation.”
Airbnb had scored a victory against New York in September, when it helped overturn a state fine against user Nigel Warren, who had hosted a guest found through the service while Warren himself continued to live in his apartment.
State Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), who helped write the 2010 law, called Warren’s exoneration “a PR victory,” adding that “the vast majority of Airbnb's business in New York City ... remains unambiguously illegal.”
David Hantman, Airbnb’s head of global public policy, wrote on his blog that he believed “the Attorney General is only seeking to target an incredibly small number of bad actors who abuse the Airbnb platform” and that he wants to come to a compromise with Schneiderman’s office.
Those 15,000 users are probably itching for a quick resolution. East Rutherford, New Jersey, is hosting the Super Bowl in February, and plenty of Airbnb users are already trying to cash in.
Photo via Eric Schneiderman/Facebook. Remix by Fernando Alfonso III