Skift Take

If Chicago is indeed a model for how Airbnb wants to cooperate with municipalities going forward, this lawsuit being filed by Chicago-area Airbnb hosts demonstrates just how difficult that may be for Airbnb to achieve, not only in the Windy City but in many other cities as well.

Chicago crossed the line into the privacy of people’s homes by imposing sweeping regulations governing Airbnb and other home-sharing services, a lawsuit from a group of current and former Airbnb hosts argues.

Keep Chicago Livable says the ordinance set to take effect in December tramples constitutional rights to freely and anonymously communicate on the internet, use one’s own property, be guaranteed due process, and be protected against illegal search and seizure. The group filed its lawsuit Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

“The law requires Airbnb to share with the government all information about its users in Chicago without a warrant, consent, or proof of any crime,” said Shorge Kenneth Sato, an attorney for the group. “Information about who they have as guests, where they live, how much they paid, how long they stayed.”

“All that information is private. Government has no business knowing that,” he said.

A spokesman for the city’s law department said Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration intends to “vigorously defend” the ordinance. The ordinance was negotiated by Emanuel aides and approved by the City Council.

Keep Chicago Livable ultimately seeks to overturn the ordinance. While awaiting the ruling, the lawsuit seeks an injunction preventing the city from implementing the ordinance Dec. 17.

Sato said the case has to do with the sanctity of the home and said the government’s ability to regulate should stop at the front door.

“Chicagoans should not have to ask the government for permission to have sleepovers in their own homes,” said Sato.

[Skift Editor’s Note: During a press call hosted by Airbnb, the company’s global head of public policy, Chris Lehane, pointed to Chicago as a model for how the company intends to work with local governments to regulate home sharing.

Lehane said: “[In] Chicago, over the course of the summer, we came up with a series of policies that we worked through with the city and the mayor’s office there, that includes us in some things that we had not done in the past but which we think really represents a model and a step forward, in particular doing something which is called a path to registration system that allows us to help the city be able to understand what’s going on through a very easy, accessible registration system.”]

Information from: Chicago Sun-Times. Copyright (2016) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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Tags: airbnb, chicago, lawsuits

Photo credit: Laura Schofield, an Airbnb host, poses for a portrait in her Chicago home. A group of Chicago-based Airbnb hosts recently filed a lawsuit against the city over privacy issues. A new short-term rental measure is set to go in effect in December 2016. Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press