“Cities Rushing To Restrict Airbnb Are About To Discover They’re Violating Key Internet Law”

Some localities intent on regulating room sharing don’t seem fully aware that “federal law — specifically CDA 230 — prevents any laws that look to hold internet platforms liable for the actions of their users.” While that law does not prevent cities from aiming regulations at their own residents, it means they might not have the authority to assign liability to platforms such as AirBnB for residents’ failure to comply. [Mike Masnick, TechDirt; G.S. Hans, CDT]

One Comment

  • The Section 230 argument may prove successful for some of the restrictions these cities are enacting, but this argument ignores the fact that Airbnb is acting as more than a mere list of rooms available for rent: they are a direct participant in the transaction. Airbnb handles the money, taking their cut; they provide insurance and guarantees on both sides of the transaction; they enforce policies and resolve disputes; and they, in some cases, provide free professional photographers to help create listings.

    I could see a situation where Section 230 is credibly used to argue that Airbnb can’t be held responsible for the mere presence of an illegal listing on their site, but once hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars are changing hands to rent that room and the site is directly backing that transaction with insurance, it ceases to be just an ordinary publisher.