Privacy Bill Targeting AirBnB Shelved, Could be Revived in January

A state Senate bill that required home sharing platforms like AirBnB to turn over customers’ personal information to local governments was quietly shelved this week, though the author said he plans to bring it back in the new year. 

SB 593, by Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, would have required operators of vacation rental services like AirBnB to report to local governments the location of the residences, the number of nights they were occupied by visitors and the amount paid for the rentals.  It was a way, McGuire said, to ensure that people renting out homes or rooms on similar sites pay visitor taxes on those rentals.

But the information would have forced companies like Airbnb to turn over personally identifiable Internet user data to hundreds of local governments around the state.  Consumer Watchdog opposed the bill, saying that it would have violated consumers’ privacy and was little more than a “blank search warrant” for law enforcement authorities.

In comparison, hotels are not compelled by state law to turn over to municipalities the guest register of every guest at every hotel, motel or inn and how much they paid.  Airlines are not required to turn over all their passenger information and the price they charged to fly to local airports. Amazon is not required to turn over to cities and counties all the goods and services it sold specific residents and the prices they charged. 

McGuire, after amending it several times, put the bill in the suspense file but said that he planned to reintroduce it in January. 

Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter here: 

http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/resources/ltrsb593-042015.pdf

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