After months of fighting to keep its user information private, the apartment-sharing website Airbnb has now agreed to comply with a subpoena by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who claims hosts have been violating New York City’s local hotel laws.
Under the agreement reached on Wednesday, Airbnb will be forced to hand over data about all of its users in NYC over the next year, reports Bloomberg.
For now, user identity will remain anonymous, but if the attorney general wants to further investigate particular hosts he will be given access to everything from their name to social media accounts to tax ID number and more, according to Gawker.
Schneiderman could then use this personal information to press charges against the hosts.
The battle between the attorney general and Airbnb first heated up last October, when Schneiderman accused Airbnb of violating NYC hotel laws that prohibit people from renting their apartments for fewer than 30 days unless the occupants are also present.
In an effort to collect the “tens of millions” of tax dollars that he believes the city lost from Airbnb’s alleged illegal actions, Schneiderman requested a subpoena to find users who were not abiding by NYC regulations.
A judge eventually shut down the subpoena, calling it overly broad, but indicated that he would approve a more narrow request.
Not long afterward, Schniederman issued a second subpoena – to which Airbnb just agreed – that the attorney general says only targets people renting out multiple apartments.
“You have to prioritize,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “We’re going to start with the most egregious violators of the law.”
In a Wednesday blog post on Airbnb’s website the company said that it believes the attorney general’s office is only “focused on large corporate property managers and hosts who take apartments off the market and disrupt communities.”
The statement added that the company had already “removed more than 2,000 listings in New York and believe that many of the hosts the Attorney General is concerned about are no longer a part of Airbnb.”
Travelers enjoy using services such as Airbnb because it allows them to explore new places while enjoying all of the comforts of home.
And according to one study, Airbnb users can save close to 50 percent over a hotel room by renting a private room using the service, and close to 22 percent by renting an apartment over a hotel room.
Savings from using Airbnb are especially evident in NYC, which has the highest average hotel prices in the country.
The share-economy service also allows hosts to make a side income by renting out their apartment or spare rooms in their apartment or house.
With an estimated value of $10 billion, the six-year-old company is considered one of the world’s most valuable technology start-ups.
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