A while ago, the city of New York tried to put a stop to AirBnB usage throughout the metropolitan area.
The city claimed that many scrupulous landlords were renting out numerous apartments, and that this was simply unfair to hotels and bed and breakfast chains seeking to turn a profit. Well, New York didn't listen. Now, the city is demanding that AirBnB give up user data.
The Fight Brews
It's a simple case, really. The city of New York wants all AirBnB data that has to do with NYC rentals. Why? Because the city wants to shut down the operation within New York. City officials claims that some people renting out apartments aren't operating legally. As such, the city has asked AirBnB to divulge user details.
Well, AirBnB isn't about to let go of the many people in New York that currently rent out vacation spaces. Giving up user data would be a breach of the company's contract, and it would certainly deter people from renting out apartments in the future - something that AirBnB doesn't want to do. The startup company claims that the city has no right to obtain such information, and that such claims are unlawful.
Reading Between the Lines
What's really going on here, though? The whole AirBnB versus the city of New York fight can be boiled down to this: hotel chains aren't happy that travelers can rent out an apartment in the city for a lot less than they can rent a hotel room. Heck, you can rent out an entire Brownstone in Brooklyn for the price of one night in a Manhattan hotel - and that's not even a nice hotel.
New Yorkers aren't phased by this "unlawful" charge, though. Not surprisingly, most New Yorkers that rent out apartments to travelers are conducting business as usual. AirBnB has told press that the company currently has around 15,000 different hosts spread throughout New York City. That's a big number - but not quite as big as the number of people that use the AirBnB service: 225,000.
Not Going Away
Needless to say, New York City is going to have to fight very hard to get AirBnB to give up any user details. This company makes its money from those 15,000 rentals and the 225,000 that use the site to travel regularly. It's not feasible that the company would give up user information at the first cry of "unfair."
In this writer's opinion, if hotel chains aren't happy about the inexpensive shelters offering through AirBnB, perhaps those hotels should lower prices. Otherwise, it's all fair when it comes to commerce - regardless of rental loopholes that currently prevent any renter from renting out a space to anyone else.
AirBnB is great for the economy, helps New Yorkers pay very high rents, and provides travelers to NYC with a cheap place to stay. What's not to love? How do you feel about this debate? Does the city of New York have any right to demand to see user data?