The New York state judge announced Tuesday that its state attorney general is prohibited from acquiring data of Airbnb hosts to combat crime. The decision arrived after a heated public battle for the online peer ? to ? peer service that allows residents to rent out their houses temporarily.
Judge Gerald W. Connolly ruled that the attorney general?s subpoena, which requested for the personal information of over 15, 000 residents, was overbroad. The judge also denied the latter?s motion that would have forced the online service to provide the needed data.
While the company has been vocal about its opposition to attorney general Eric Schneiderman?s request, it has expressed its desire to work with the latter amidst the battle. “This decision is good news for New Yorkers who simply want to share their home and the city they love,” said Airbnb in its statement. “Now, it’s time for us to work together. Airbnb hosts and the Attorney General share a common goal: we all want to make New York a better place to live, work and visit. We look forward to continuing to work with the attorney general’s office to make New York stronger for everyone.”
Schneiderman?s office has not released a comment, but the Washington Post reported that it is already filing a different subpoena that complies with the court?s directive.
User Data for Crime Fighting
The attorney general’s office filed a subpoena for the host data in early October, saying that it’s only targeting users who are breaking the law by listing their homes for short-term rentals on Airbnb. Some parts of New York are not zoned for these types of rentals in an attempt to prevent people from operating illegal hotels. Airbnb has been quietly scrubbing these listings from its site.
The Internet Association, a tech lobbying group with some of the biggest companies as its members, expressed support behind its member, Airbnb. The group called the attorney general?s subpoena as ?reckless.? Meanwhile, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation,?have cited privacy concerns and went against the attorney general?s request.
In April, representatives from local, state and federal levels of the government held a press conference in Harlem to protest Airbnb?s service and expressed support behind the attorney general?s subpoena. Airbnb recently revised its terms of service agreements, warning users to respect the local laws.