The Hotel Industry Is Lobbying to Make Your Next Vacation More Expensive

The Daily Signal

Earlier this month, Congressman Ed Case introduced a bill that would make finding accommodation on your next getaway more expensive—regardless of where you choose to stay.

Why? It turns out hotels don’t like your cheap stays with Airbnb and HomeAway, and they’re lining up behind this bill to run those platforms off the market.

The Hawaii Democrat calls it the “PLAN Act,” short for Protecting Local Authority and Neighborhoods. The bill would amend a crucial internet provision called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act—the law that enables online services to host large amounts of user-created content without bearing liability for that content.

Read more…

Murky GOP bill aims to stop ‘censorship’ by tech companies

Michigan Advance

The bill is strongly opposed by NetChoice, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that brands itself as “a trade association of businesses who share the goal of promoting free speech and free enterprise on the net.”

Carl Szabo, the group’s vice president and general counsel, said passage of the bill would likely lead to companies ceasing “content moderation,” essentially opening up users to the potential for increased harassment, and would violate the First Amendment. 

“It’s injecting government into private contract and private business,” Szabo said. “It has unintended consequences that we will begin to see. And fortunately, it’s unnecessary.”

This Hawaiian Hotelier Hates Airbnb so Much He’s Willing to Destroy the Internet To Kill It

Reason Magazine

“This bill creates a moral hazard by letting big hotel chains harass short term rental competitors, just so the big hotels can further increase their room rates,” says Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, a trade association of e-commerce businesses. “Weakening Section 230 will damage Americans’ ability to communicate online. The bill empowers Marriott to stop us from lawfully earning rental income on our own homes.”

Lawmakers discuss social media sites censoring Michiganders


NetChoice Vice President Carl Szabo said, “Email service providers that hold themselves to be neutral would be unable to block spam because they would be, “shadow banning” spammers. So while this is an issue of important discussion, I don’t think HB 4801 is a way to address the concerns we’ve heard.”

NetChoice Opposition to HB 4801 – A Bill to amend 1976 PA 331 – Social Media Bill

Opposition to HB 4801 – A Bill to amend 1976 PA 331

Carl Szabo testifies on Social Media Moderation bill – Michigan HB 4801

Hotel industry mounts attack on Airbnb with House bill

The Hill

Steve DelBianco, president of e-commerce trade group NetChoice, which promotes free speech on the internet, called Section 230 “the greatest internet law that no one’s ever heard of.”

He said issues with short-term rentals should be addressed at the local level.

“Congress should not get involved with how the city of Austin, Texas, enforces its lodging and local zoning laws against property owners,” DelBianco said. “But Congress is being pulled into this competitive conflict because Section 230 is a federal law and bars local governments from imposing liability on a platform for commerce and communication that came from users.”

Carl Szabo, NetChoice’s general counsel, argued that Case’s bill would encourage platforms to be less responsive to take down content of bad actors, which is a component of Section 230 and could lead to platforms not doing any moderation at all, similar to how 8chan operates.

“This bill would create disincentives for short term rental platforms to engage in active, aggressive, monitoring of homeowners,” he said.

Like others in the short-term rental lobby, DelBianco said NetChoice plans to educate lawmakers “on the general hazards of punching holes in Section 230.”

Every State but California and Alabama Is Investigating Google for Antitrust Violations

Western Journal

While bipartisan efforts are moving forward, the vice president of NetChoice, a trade association of businesses, expressed disappointment in the plans, calling it a “tech witch hunt.”

“There is no case for antitrust. The marketplace is robust with competition and it’s incongruous that direct competitors can all simultaneously be monopolies,” Carl Szabo told The Daily Caller News Foundation in August.

NetChoice Criticizes Bill That Would Upend Short-Term Rental Market

Today, NetChoice criticized a new bill introduced by Rep. Case (D-HI) that would upend the American short-term rental market by removing Section 230 protections for platforms where owners list their properties.

“This bill creates a moral hazard by letting big hotel chains harass short term rental competitors, just so the big hotels can further increase their room rates,” said Steve DelBianco, President of NetChoice.  [see direct quotes from hotel chain executives below]

“Weakening Section 230 will damage Americans’ ability to communicate online.  The bill empowers Marriott to stop us from lawfully earning rental income on our own homes.”

“It’s laughable to hold the Washington Post liable for bad acts associated with rentals that appear in classified ads — but that is what this bill does.  This bill is so broad it allows cities to ban home rental ads on craigslist and on any website showing classified ads.”

Hotel chain executives have said on record that laws curtailing STRs would allow them to raise prices:

  • LaSalle Hotel Properties’ CEO Mark Barnello told his investors that a law curtailing short-term rental services would allow hotels to boost their prices by eliminating competition.  Passage of a law liming short-term rental services “should be a big boost in the arm for the business, certainly in terms of the pricing.”
  • On an earnings call last year, Jon Bortz, Chief Executive of Pebblebrook Hotel Trust, which owns Embassy Suites, Doubletree and other hotels, said that Airbnb has put a dent on the company’s “ability to price at what maybe the customer would describe as sort of gouging rates.”

Texas AG Leads Nationwide Antitrust Investigation of Google

The National Interest

NetChoice President Carl Szabo, who testified in a July 16 congressional hearing titled “Online Platforms and Market Power” and previously told the DCNF that an investigation into Google or Facebook would be a “tech witch hunt,” said he thinks Paxton “appears to have an open mind about this investigation.”

“Some [attroneys general] already have a conclusion, and then they look for the facts afterward, and that sets a dangerous precedent for any law enforcement body,” he added.

Szabo also said, however, that he thinks the investigation is unnecessary.

“What you’re seeing is kind of a pile-on where there’s no real disincentive for a state AG to put their name on the investigation. A lot of people can go out searching for things like El Dorado and invest their time into looking for something that just doesn’t exist,” he said.

“If you take a mere three minutes to think about the arguments for an antitrust case against Facebook and Google, they just don’t exist. There’s robust competition, and direct competitors can all simultaneously be monopolies. The American public overwhelmingly believes that on the list of things the government should look into, big tech is not a priority,” he continued.