“Palm Beach County Short-Term Rental Ordinance is Unconstitutional and Undermines Homeowners’ Personal Privacy”, NetChoice Says

October 15, 2018 – Efforts by Palm Beach County to regulate short-term rentals (STRs) infringes on the constitutional rights of homeowners, invades the privacy of county residents and undermines a vital economic engine to the local economy, NetChoice filed in legal testimony today.

Proposed Ordinance 95-30 would require online STR platforms, like Homeaway, Airbnb and VRBO, to disclose user data to the government or face liability requirements.

NetChoice believes the ordinance:

  • Violates the U.S. constitution.
  • Breaks federal Internet law.
  • Prevents local residents from earning extra income and would have wide-ranging negative impacts on the local economy.
  • Threatens the privacy of local residents.

“Palm Beach County is flaunting years of federal protections that have benefitted consumers and enabled the Internet to become a vital economic engine for local, state and national economies,” said Carl Szabo, VP and General Counsel for NetChoice. “The existence of short-term rentals in Palm Beach benefits local residents as much as it does tourists. STRs allow local homeowners to pay their mortgages and afford the added burdens of local taxes and hurricane insurance. Visitors save money by staying in STRs enabling them to have extra cash to spend at local restaurants and stores.”

NetChoice’s testimony detailed how Palm Beach’s proposed ordinance breaks the 4th amendment of the U.S. constitution, as it requires unreasonable search and seizure of personal information.  Further, the proposed ordinance also violates the Communications Decency Act,  which protects online platforms from being legally responsible for content posted by their users. The law’s existence has enabled consumers and businesses to conduct billions of dollars of commerce on the internet.

NYC Short-Term Rental Law Is Unconstitutional, NetChoice States

Forcing Businesses to Turn Over Private and Personal Customer Information Violates the Rights of all New Yorkers

Washington, D.C., October-1, 2018 – Local Law 146, a short-term rental law passed by the New York City (NYC) Council and signed into law by Mayor de Blasio in August violates the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and needs to be amended, NetChoice says.

NetChoice filed in the court cases of Airbnb vs. NYC and HomeAway vs. NYC. Both Airbnb and Homeway are seeking preliminary injunctions against NYC’s Local Law 146.

Local Law 146 requires short-term rental (STR) platforms to disclose private and personal information of hosts who reserve STRs through them. This law is an attempt by the city government to improve enforcement of strict regulations on STRs.

However, NetChoice believes that the law has three fatal flaws as it:

  • Breaks the 4th Amendment of the Constitution
  • Defies the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act
  • Violates New York State privacy laws

“New York’s fight against their own residents has lead them to defy the constitution and violate the rights of New Yorkers,” continued Szabo. “New York’s Southern District Court should protect the rights of NYC homeowners. The city’s anti-home sharing laws are dysfunctional and to enforce them New York is trampling residents’ right to privacy.”

Anti-Home Sharing Bill Would Hurt Thousands in the District

WASHINGTON, September 25, 2018 – A newly proposed ordinance would decimate DC’s robust short-term rental market, depriving home-owners of their property rights and hurting neighborhood restaurants and small businesses that benefit from short-term rentals in the District.

The proposed restrictions on short-term rentals, to be released later today, are accompanied by a half-million-dollar ad campaign funded by the big hotel chains – who want to eliminate competition from short-term rentals.   LaSalle Hotel Properties’s CEO told investors that a law curtailing short-term rental services would allow hotels to boost their room rates.

“Washington DC already gives millions in tax breaks to big hotels, and Council should not give hotels another handout by curtailing the property rights of District home owners,” said Carl Szabo, General Counsel of NetChoice.

Short-term rentals provide much-needed income to hundreds of DC residents.  Over 52 percent of short-term rental hosts nationwide live in low-to-moderate income households. And almost half of the income hosts earn through short-term rentals helps them cover household expenses.  Moreover, there are hundreds of local restaurants, shops, and cleaning services that benefit from the activity of short-term rentals.

“This legislation has been marred by misinformation and process problems and should not be rammed through in the closing days of this year’s final Council session.   This issue deserves a robust public discussion and economic impact analysis,” continued Szabo.

“This bill will harm thousands of DC residents who rely on short-term rentals, not just home owners, but small businesses that benefit from the economic boost created by short term renting.”

 

About NetChoice

NetChoice is a trade association of eCommerce businesses who share the goal of promoting convenience, choice, and commerce on the net.

NetChoice Concerns with Baltimore City Mandates on Short Term Rental Platforms

NetChoice Concerns with Baltimore City Mandates on Short Term Rental Platforms

Americans Believe Online Platforms Empower Business Advertising and Community Engagement

Our data shows that Americans see the growth of online platforms has had a positive impact on the economy. Online platforms have not only allowed businesses of every size to reach potential customers nationwide, but also to advertise to them intelligently based so that they can reach the sort of customers more likely to buy their products. For many businesses, this has enabled them to thrive rather than just survive.

Consumers have benefitted too. Greater competition, innovation, and a reduction in the information gap has all been enabled by online platforms. With their help, an ideal purchase is only a click away.

58% of Americans, and 73% of those between 18 and 24 years old, say online platforms helped them discover a small business they had not previously known.

Online platforms haven’t just benefited commerce, either. 72% of Americans said that online platforms have enabled them to be in better touch with their community.

Over three quarters of Americans (77%) believe that the ability to place digital ads on these platforms is valuable to small businesses. This benefit extends to the wider economy too, with 70% of Americans believing that digital advertising is valuable to the national economy.

Evidently, Americans value their access to online platforms and the advertising services they provide. Politicians should avoid passing regulations that risk undermining every the benefits of the internet at every layer of society – from how individuals interact with their local community, to the viability of small businesses, to the wider economy.

Online platforms have become a vibrant and important component of our economy and society.