If it wasn’t obvious, creating a global operations isn’t an easy task and isn’t as simple as just opening up shop in another country. Certain things need to be changed and modified to comply with local laws and regulations and culture and what not, which is what Airbnb is appearing to do.
In a report from Reuters, it looks like Airbnb will starting sharing host information with the Chinese government. However before you get your pitchforks, note that this is only for listings based in China and also hosts that are in China. This is due to a government regulation on residency where both citizens and tourists have to register their address with the police upon arrival in the country.
Airbnb has also sent out emails to hosts informing them of these changes, but note that their practice is not dissimilar to other hospitality companies in the country, and that hosts who aren’t comfortable with having their information shared with the government are free to deactivate their listings.
According to a statement made by Airbnb, “Airbnb China must comply with local laws and regulations, including privacy and information disclosure laws.” This isn’t the first time that we’re seeing Western companies comply with Chinese laws despite some feeling that it might be disregarding the privacy of individuals.
For example Apple had to comply with Chinese laws regarding VPN apps where they removed the ones that weren’t approved by the government. This led to some in the US government questioning Apple’s decision in which they felt that this was “enabling” the Chinese government’s censorship of the internet.
Some US Senators have also felt that tech companies in the US have a “moral obligation” to promote free expression in China.