Maria Montero

New York City judge blocks law …

On Thursday, a federal judge blocked a New York City law requiring Airbnb to release data each month about people who use its apartment listing service to take effect while the company challenges the law in court.

The preliminary ruling, handed down by US District Judge Paul Engelmayer in Manhattan, could be a boon for the San Francisco-based company as it prepares for a Broad initial public offering anticipated later this year.

The judge will not issue a final ruling until later in the case after both parties have exchanged evidence.

3D printed models of a person are displayed in front of the Airbnb logo. Image: Reuters

“Today’s decision is a huge victory for Airbnb and its users, including the thousands of New Yorkers at risk of illegal surveillance who use Airbnb to make ends meet,” Airbnb said in a statement.

“This is a law to prevent owners from creating de facto hotels, which is unfair and illegal,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said when asked about the decision at a news conference. “We believe that we will finally prevail.”

Airbnb allows users to rent or sublet their homes to guests through an online service. Critics of the company in New York and other major cities say the service contributes to high housing costs and overcrowding.

In 2010, in an effort to address those concerns, New York State passed a law prohibiting apartment rentals for periods of less than 30 days, unless a permanent resident remains in the apartment. New York City also prohibits short-term apartment rentals in many cases.

The city’s new law, which was passed last July and scheduled to take effect next month, was aimed at helping the city identify Airbnb listings that were in conflict with short-rent laws. term.

It would require Airbnb and similar service providers to turn over information about their users, including names, addresses, and details of how they used the service, every month.

Airbnb and another home exchange company, HomeAway.com Inc., sued the city last year to block the law. Thursday’s order applies to the cases of both companies.

Airbnb and HomeAway argued that the law violated the protection of the United States Constitution against the unreasonable search and seizure of private property by the government.

Engelmayer said in Thursday’s decision that the companies would likely prevail in their argument. He said the scope of information required by law was “impressive,” encompassing “virtually all the monthly information the service receives from each user.”

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