(Eureka) – The global home rental business, Airbnb, is getting ready to share personal information with its competitors to fend off a lawsuit from the city of New York.
Airbnb members started connecting with fellow members of the popular online home rental service in March 2011.
The service requires customers to first book their guest room from a local Airbnb listing, which then advertises it to Airbnb members. Once booked, members of the service can check in on their homepage and see who else in their home community has booked a similar room.
A New York Times reporter found this feature to be quite useful when dealing with a family staying in his home.
New York claims that Airbnb created a competitive market that is undercut by hotels. It filed a lawsuit in 2014 against Airbnb, claiming that the business uses deceptive business practices to gain members.
New York State Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Kern ordered the company to provide personal information about its members for the state’s attorney general to use against the company.
The plaintiff claims that Airbnb uses its personal information to negotiate deals with hotels, which then dominate the home rental market. The company uses this information to create new clientele, it argues.
These details are intended to enable the attorney general, Erick Mains, to evaluate new competitors in the industry. He has sent communications to New York home rental services that stated that he “frequently cites” recent evidence that Airbnb makes “a deliberate business decision to undercut its competitors.”
But Airbnb is fighting back. It claims that the New York attorney general has unlawfully sought information that is private. Airbnb is asking that the requested information be protected from an adverse inference.
If Judge Kern rules that the company should comply with the demands, it would be a massive defeat for the attorney general. But if she allows the company to refuse to provide information that could be used to defend the company, then that defeats her part in the suit as well.