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Data Privacy

Federal Court Enjoins NYC Ordinance Requiring Airbnb and HomeAway to Disclose User Info

By Antoine Bedard, Penn State Law

On January 3, 2019, U.S. District Judge Engelmayer of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York preliminarily enjoined a New York City ordinance that required home-sharing platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway to report information monthly on all NYC users, specifically the hosts who provided listings through the platforms. AirBNB, Inc. v. City of New York, 18 Civ. 7712 (PAE) (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 3, 2019). The court held that the platforms have privacy interests in their user records, for competitive and customer relation purposes, that “trigger Fourth Amendment Protection.” The court found that the ordinance would likely be invalidated under the Fourth Amendment, because there is no “pre-compliance review by a neutral decisionmaker” and the city hasn’t sufficiently justified the “sweeping capture” of user records. The court stated that “…the expansive user records required [to] be produced cannot be credibly described as ‘limited in scope.’” Accordingly, the court enjoined the ordinance from taking effect while the parties expeditiously engaged in discovery so the Court would be able to rule on the plaintiffs’ application for permanent relief.

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