FILE PHOTO: A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco, California, U.S., Aug 2, 2016. Source: Reuters

Airbnb will hand over data on guests to Chinese authorities

BEGINNING today, short-term home rental service Airbnb Inc will be submitting guest details with Chinese authorities in line with the country’s requirement for foreigners to register their accommodation with the police.

The San-Fransico company, in a notice sent to homeowners, said it will hand over details of people who stayed at its properties to the Chinese government from March 30, according to the South China Morning Post.

“Like all businesses operating in China, Airbnb China must comply with local laws and regulations,” Airbnb said.

“We’re committed to doing all we can to keep our hosts and guests informed about our work in China and we recently updated our hosts about our requirements under the law. The information we collect is similar to information hotels in China have collected for decades.”

The company also provided an option for hosts to remove their listings from Airbnb.

As one of the pioneers of the sharing economy, Airbnb has not been without its setbacks. Source: Shutterstock/ArthurStock

China has strict regulations on accommodation require citizens and tourists to provide their addresses with the police when they arrive in the country or stay at a hotel, within 24 hours.

The changes come after Airbnb shuttered its service for a month in Beijing while the country’s annual parliament was in session, a time of increased surveillance targeting dissidents and migrants, according to Reuters.

In late 2016, Airbnb moved to store its data in China to meet the country’s requirements, sparking concern that user data would be compromised. It also launched a separate Chinese business to comply with the law.

China introduced a strict new cybersecurity law last year that requires foreign and local tech firms to store Chinese data locally and offer technical support to authorities who wish to access it.

Airbnb is expanding in China amid stiff competition from Chinese rivals and, which also comply with the strict regulations and shutter their services during politically sensitive events.