According to the Wall Street Journal, Airbnb’s chief trust officer Sean Joyce left the company only six months later in 2019 because of the company’s data-sharing practices in China by the former FBI deputy director.
For years, Airbnb has disclosed that when users book rent in China, it shares information such as phone numbers and email addresses with the Chinese government. This happens regardless of whether the user is a Chinese citizen or foreign visitor-all hotels in the country must comply with this policy.
Joyce, who Airbnb hired to protect platform users in May 2019, is concerned about Airbnb’s willingness to share data. The Wall Street Journal reported that Joyce also opposed the scope of data sharing, such as messages sent between guests and hosts.
He worried that this might allow the Chinese government to track foreign tourists and their citizens.
The company specifically mentioned Airbnb’s China business in its S-1 filing before the planned IPO on Monday. The prospectus reads: “If China’s rent regulations or their interpretation change in the future, we may be forced to be forced to stop our business in China.”
Over the years, American high-tech companies have had to establish difficult relationships with China. China currently blocks major companies such as Facebook and Google so that they do not comply with government information requirements.
Other companies such as Apple have made considerable profits in the country, but are often criticized for making concessions to the government.
China is one of the largest markets in the world, but the Chinese Communist Party’s preference for universal surveillance often arouses responses from employees.
Despite this, US companies continue to provide tools to monitor and censor marginalized communities such as Uighur Muslims in China, including using DNA databases to track their activities. These actions directly led to the persecution and detention of the group.
Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company is in the process of an initial public offering (IPO), so it is in a so-called “quiet period” in which the voice of speakers and executives is restricted.