Judge blocks New York City law requiring Airbnb to hand over user data

FILE PHOTO: The logos of Airbnb are displayed at an Airbnb event in Tokyo, Japan, June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Issei Kato

By Brendan Pierson

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A federal judge on Thursday blocked a New York City law requiring Airbnb to hand over data each month about people who use its apartment listing service from taking effect while the company challenges the law in court.

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

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

New York City’s law department could not immediately be reached for comment.

Airbnb allows users to list their homes for rent on the internet. The company’s critics in New York and other major cities say the service contributes to high housing costs.

The New York City law, which was passed last July and was scheduled to take effect next month, would require Airbnb and providers of similar services to turn over information about its users, including names and addresses, each month.

Airbnb argued that the law ran afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure of private property by the government. Engelmayer said in Thursday’s ruling that the company was likely to prevail in the case.

The judge will not enter a final ruling until later in the litigation, after both sides have exchanged evidence.