Airbnb is suing NYC to keep from sharing host data

The company wants to block a recently-approved law forcing the disclosure of host info.

In a role-reversal, Airbnb is the one suing a city, and it's doing so to protect its hosts' privacy. In July, the New York City Council passed a regulation forcing short-term rental services to hand over hosts' names and addresses every month to help a civic crackdown on illegal listings. Airbnb's lawsuit against NYC alleges that the new law violates its users' constitutional rights.

Obviously, Airbnb has some skin in the game. When San Francisco implemented a similar regulation earlier this year, listings for the rental company fell by half. Airbnb sued the west coast city, and a settlement required the company to register its hosts before they're allowed to post listings, which is intended to reduce illegal housing situations. It's possible that Airbnb is aiming for a similar compromise here. Their legal filing (PDF) nevertheless attacks the NYC law's permissions and motivations, portraying it as "an extraordinary act of government overreach."

"No probable cause, notice, or legal review is contemplated in connection with the bulk collection of this data, and no real restrictions are placed on its use or dissemination," Airbnb's filing continued. It also alleges it was pushed by the city's hotel lobby.

The NYC agency responsible for investigating illegal rentals on services like Airbnb maintain that the new law will help them enforce lawbreaking hosts, according to Recode. "This law provides the City with the critical data it needs to preserve our housing stock, keep visitors safe, and ensure residents feel secure in their homes and neighborhoods, and the City will defend it," Christian Klossner, executive director of the Mayor's Office of Special Enforcement, said in a written statement.