Judge throws out New York's request for data on Airbnb

The judge called the subpoena overly broad

Airbnb won a break from rising legal scrutiny as a New York judge threw out a subpoena seeking mounds of data about people who have rented out their living spaces through the service.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued the subpoena last fall as part of an investigation into "bad actor" hosts and other illegal activity carried out using the website, including unpaid taxes on rentals. One issue was a New York law governing hotel taxes paid on rentals lasting longer than 14 days. Airbnb subsequently filed a motion to block the subpoena, calling it a "fishing expedition."

The subpoena had demanded the names and mailing and email addresses of thousands of Airbnb hosts in New York, as well as dates of stay, rates, methods of payment and total revenue for the rentals.

Calling it "unduly burdensome," New York State Supreme Court Justice Gerald Connolly wrote in a filing on Tuesday that the subpoena was overly broad. "The subpoena at issue, as drafted, seeks materials that are irrelevant to the inquiry at hand and accordingly, must be quashed," Connolly wrote.

Airbnb applauded the filing. "This decision is good news for New Yorkers who simply want to share their home and the city they love," the company said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing to work with the attorney general's office to make New York stronger for everyone," the company said.

However, Judge Connolly wrote in the filing that Airbnb itself had failed to demonstrate that the subpoena was unduly burdensome.

Also, there is evidence that a substantial number of hosts may be in violation of housing and tax laws, according to Connolly. "There are hosts regularly using their apartments to provide lodging to guests who may not be complying with the state and local tax registration and/or collection requirements," he wrote.

Airbnb recently said it removed some 2,000 New York listings from its site, targeting hosts who were abusing its service.

Matt Mittenthal, a spokesman for the attorney general, said in a statement that the office was "committed to enforcing a law that provides vital protections for building residents and tourists alike." The attorney general's office will reissue the subpoena with a sharper focus, he said.

Airbnb's service is generating rising interest from regulators. Hosts in San Francisco may face new restrictions over how they rent their homes using the site.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesconsumer electronicsAirbnbsmartphonessocial networkingsocial mediainternetsearch engines

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?