Airbnb to reveal 124 New York hosts to attorney general

The information will help advance an investigation into possible violations of state and local laws

Airbnb will hand over information on 124 of its hosts in New York to comply with a request from the state attorney general, who is investigating the legality of the service, the company said Friday.

The attorney general sought unredacted personal information on the New York City hosts this week, Airbnb said in a blog post. The company notified affected hosts of the request, with which it intends to comply.

The order from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman comes as part of a larger investigation into whether people are using Airbnb's service in violation of state and local laws. Under one law, New Yorkers cannot rent out an apartment for fewer than 30 days without the occupant being present. Authorities are also looking at use of the site as an "illegal hotel service," in which hosts may create multiple listings at once without paying hotel taxes.

Airbnb said in May it would be submitting information on about 16,000 New York City hosts, albeit in an anonymized form that omitted details such as names, addresses and Social Security numbers. The attorney general planned to use that information to see which people were creating multiple listings without violating their privacy.

Schneiderman now wants more information on some of those hosts. Airbnb said it was hard to know why those 124 hosts were targeted specifically. However, the attorney general is probably not after anyone except "individuals who may be flagrantly misusing our platform," Airbnb said.

The vast majority of the 124 hosts no longer use Airbnb's site, the company said. An Airbnb spokesman declined to comment further.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office declined to say why the 124 hosts were singled out or clarify what information on them it was seeking.

Airbnb has already taken steps to remove what it calls "bad actors" who may be violating laws in New York. The company said in April it had removed more than 2,000 such listings.

The attorney general's office has one year to review all its data.

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

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