August 26, 2019

A growing army of ‘Airbnb’ police gets paid to expose the addresses of homeshare hosts

City governments are paying 3rd-party personal-info providers to dig up private info about Airbnb hosts.

Personal info about Airbnb hosts is supposed to be kept private — that’s what the company tells its hosts, anyway.

But a growing number of companies are paying contractors to track down that information and make it public, reports Vice.

City governments want Airbnb’s info to ensure compliance…

And they’re willing to pay private companies to track it down.

So companies with names like Host Compliance use a combination of automated tools and human contractors to dig up as much information about Airbnb hosts as possible.

The process is surprisingly low-tech: Contractors cross-reference information from Zillow, Google Maps, Facebook, local property records, and Whitepages to determine who owns which properties.

Then, these companies provide the information that has been unearthed by the contractors to city governments, which, in turn, use it to crack down on illegal renters.

Not everyone is psyched about doxing-as-a-service

Some critics argue that digging up this type of private information about Airbnb hosts is an invasion of their privacy. But city officials insist that, because the information is used to enforce rental laws, these types of services are beneficial to cities.

Other critics — including some contractors interviewed anonymously by Vice — also complain that companies such as Host Compliance offer inappropriately low pay and misleading bonus programs.

Postings — which are typically listed on sites like Amazon Mechanical Turk — typically pay $2 for a standard correct ID and up to $4 for addresses that are harder to track down.

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