When Slate first covered Airbnb a year ago, we asked whether it “might even disrupt the hotel industry” or was “an overhyped media sensation, nothing but a posh Craigslist”? Under normal circumstances, I’d expect the company to be loudly trumpeting the former theory, but instead Airbnb came to Washington this week to explain how small and unimportant it is.

The problem, you see, is that Airbnb may be illegal.