Federal Court: NYC Data Disclosure Law Violates Fourth Amendment

January 3, 2019

A federal court has blocked a New York City law requiring home-sharing platforms to disclose detailed personal information about users, ruling that the ordinance violates the Fourth Amendment. The law would have required companies such as Airbnb to disclose the names, contact information, financial data, and rental histories of hosts, even when no unlawful conduct was suspected. "An attempt by a municipality in an era before electronic data storage to compel an entire industry monthly to copy and produce its records as to all local customers would have been unthinkable under the Fourth Amendment," the court wrote. The court followed a Supreme Court case Los Angeles v. Patel, which prohibited the warrantless searches of hotel records. EPIC filed an amicus brief in Patel. The federal court also cited Carpenter v. United States, Byrd v. United States, Riley v. California, and United States v. Jones, Supreme Court cases in which EPIC also filed amicus briefs. The decision in Airbnb v. New York also has implications for the data collection practices of so-called Smart Cities.

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