In New York there has been the long-running battle between lodging middleman Airbnb and the state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. What seems like light years ago he sent a subpoena to Airbnb for identification data about a number of hosts. Until recently, Airbnb pushed back.
Finally, Airbnb agreed to provide data about 130 hosts on September 2, 2014 - that is, today. Those hosts were notified, reports Julia Marsh in the New York Post, on August 22, 2014. Twenty-one of them, without disclosing their identity, are now suing Airbnb to block that disclosure. They succeeded on that point. Through their lawyer Adam Leitman Bailey they contend violation of privacy and that Airbnb changed the terms of that without notifying the hosts. Here is the Post coverage.
So, neither Airbnb nor the NY AG looks good in this latest twist in the subpoena story.
However, as long as those renting out can make a buck and those doing the renting can save a buck, Airbnb will continue to grow. On that trajectory, though, it will have to cave more to state and local laws.
As for the office of the NY AG, it will have to figure out how to factor in the public relations implications of taking on the sharing economy. The legal issues are seeming more legitimate. But, as we know, law has usually been subjected to public policy issues. And those matters reflect the will of the people.