November 8, 2013 | News, Press Releases

The Internet Association Files Amicus Brief To Quash the NYAG Subpoena Against Airbnb

The Internet Association, a nonprofit trade organization representing the leading Internet companies, filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in the County of Albany in support of quashing the subpoena against Airbnb by the New York Attorney General’s office. Airbnb is a member of The Internet Association.

The amicus brief argues that that the NYAG has exceeded the limits of his power by filing a subpoena without any explanation to seek information concerning all of Airbnb’s hosts in New York. It points out that although law enforcement authorities need to be able to investigate bad actors, government officials should not be using a meat cleaver where a scalpel is available – especially in a way that unduly imposes unreasonable burdens on law-abiding citizens.

“Should the Court require Airbnb to comply with the subpoena in its current form, it would set a dangerous and harmful precedent,” the brief states. The brief notes that as a general matter, “if the NYAG’s power to engage in such a fishing expedition were upheld, it would have enormous implications for the Internet.” It reminds the court that because government authorities have broad powers, “courts should be especially vigilant” to ensure those powers are used properly, and points out that “the NYAG subpoena fails that test.”

Michael Beckerman, President and CEO at The Internet Association said, “Airbnb is being unfairly targeted. Telling Airbnb that New York City is “closed for business” will have a chilling effect throughout the startup economy, and we will fight this tooth and nail.”

“Airbnb is doing good, causing no harm, providing more options to consumers, and contributing to the local economy,” Beckerman continued. “Rules ensuring safety, preventing fraud and deterring abuse are all in the public interest, but regulations should not come at the expense of the consumer. This defining fight of the sharing economy puts New York’s reputation as a startup-friendly destination at stake; its leaders must ensure that laws and regulation keep pace with 21st century innovation.”

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Today, the Internet Association, along with a number of civil society organizations, technology companies, trade associations, and security and policy experts, submitted a letter to President Obama calling for the White House to reject any proposal that requires U.S. technology companies to weaken encryption standards on devices and services in order to maintain the capability to decrypt customer data at the government’s request.

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