Airbnb Won't Comply With Subpoena from New York Attorney General

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Short-term home rental site Airbnb says it won't comply with a subpoena from the New York Attorney General asking it to hand over data about its 15,000 hosts in New York City.

"This demand is unreasonably broad and we will fight it with everything we've got," said Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky in an email sent out to hosts early Monday morning. 

"Host" is what the company calls its users who rent rooms or apartments to other people.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is seeking data on all NYC hosts by end of day Monday.

At issue is whether or not property managers, brokers and individuals could be breaking the city's 2010 illegal hotel law by renting out multiple units or renting out their homes for long periods of time, not "casual users," according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Collin, who asked that his last name not be used due to the subpoena, rents out his one-bedroom apartment in Fort Greene, sometimes as much as 10 to 12 days a month. News of the investigation left him feeling uncertain of whether or not he was breaking the law. 

"You're not sure how this is all going to break down," he said. "We're just not sure where we stand and we're looking for some clarity on that."

He added: "Whenever anyone says that they want to use your data, that they want your data to be sent somewhere, it's a very unsettling feeling."

Megan, an Airbnb host in the East Village, said she understands the need for an investigation, but she expects the attorney general won't find many "bad apples" who are using the service to act as slumlords or make heaps of money.  She also asked that her last name not be used.

"What I really like about Airbnb is the safety and security of the community," she said. "The terrible host and the terrible guest don't last very long on Airbnb without getting kicked off."

While Airbnb said it will not comply with the subpoena, the company stressed that it continues to talk to the attorney general's office about how to support hosts while removing bad actors from the platform. 

The attorney general's office declined to comment on the status of discussions with Airbnb.