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China technology

Chinese province asks home-sharing platforms to hand over guest and host information to authorities

  • The policy brings those involved in the home sharing business under the same rules that have applied to the country’s hotel industry for decades
PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 December, 2018, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2018, 5:51pm

China’s home-sharing platforms, including Airbnb, will soon be covered by the public security authority’s mass surveillance network as the first regulations governing online home rentals come into force in early 2019.

China’s coastal Zhejiang province recently launched a registration policy for home-sharing businesses, requiring all platforms to submit information on apartments for rent, hosts and guests to the local public security authority from January 1.

Under the policy, home-sharing platforms are required to check, register and report to the Zhejiang Public Security Department on the location of the apartments for rent as well as provide the name, contact and identity information of both apartment owners and guests. The check in and departure time of guests also needs reporting.

The policy, the first of its kind in China, brings those involved in the home sharing business in Zhejiang province under the same rules that have applied to the country’s hotel industry for decades.

The new policy comes amid rising concerns over potential public security challenges brought by the online home-sharing model, which allows homeowners to rent apartments to strangers without meeting offline. A notice published by the official site of the Zhejiang Public Security Department on Friday said the policy aims to safeguard the operational safety of the home-sharing business as well as protect social order.

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“Online home rentals have become a choice for more travellers. But operations have brought potential risks in public security, even terrorism, due to the rapid flow of people and the lack of identity information,” Wu Yizhong, an officer with the Zhejiang Public Security Department, was quoted as saying in the notice.

An Airbnb spokesperson said on Monday it welcomed the regulation, and would work with the local authorities, as well as others to comply with the local rules. “Airbnb is committed to working in partnership with government and we have successfully partnered with governments around the world to craft smart rules that work,” said the spokesperson.

US short-term rental service Airbnb started to disclose host information to Chinese government agencies at the end of March as the San Francisco-based company wants to fully comply with regulations in China.

Airbnb China said in an email to hosts in March that the decision was “similar to what other hospitality companies that conduct business in China do” without revealing specific disclosures.

According to a the latest report from China’s State Information Center, there were about 78 million people, both hosts and guests, involved in the China home-sharing business in 2017, creating a market worth 14.5 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion). Transactions in the home-sharing business are expected to reach 50 billion yuan by 2020.