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Airbnb Supports EU Regulator For Digital Platforms

Airbnb Supports EU Digital Regulator

On the heels of a landmark case in the European Union that would classify it as a digital platform, Airbnb said in a blog post on Wednesday (Jan. 29) that it supports plans to establish a digital regulator.

The short-term home rental firm won an exemption from European property regulations in a ruling last month of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Reuters reported.

The company said a new watchdog should enter into the discussion around the EU’s proposed Digital Services Act, which is working on enhanced safety rules for digital platforms and services.

“While our thinking on this topic is still in its early stages … we are clear that we support calls for a single European oversight body for digital services,” said Chris Lehane, an Airbnb senior vice president, at a briefing in London. “We strongly believe that housing policy and regulations of short-term rentals … does need to take place at the local level.”

The site’s rapid growth over the past 10 years has challenged the traditional hotel industry and local authorities worldwide. New York, Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris have all pointed fingers at the company, accusing it of deepening housing shortages.

In support of an EU regulator, Airbnb said the position “would provide trusted guidance to policymakers and digital platforms,” which would lead to “sound regulations” in accordance with EU laws.

“Over the last few years, governments have updated their rules, and platforms such as Airbnb have developed innovative new ways to partner with governments to serve all stakeholders,” Lehane said. “But that journey has been long, sometimes confusing and often costly. We want to work with everyone to ensure that the proposed Digital Services Act serves all stakeholders and provides the best possible deal for cities, governments and companies.”

Airbnb made its support official in a series of letters to EU and city leaders. The company said it would take steps in transparency, tax and trust “to be good partners to cities.” It also said that independent data about Airbnb’s impact across Europe would be provided to cities in the coming weeks.

In other news, Airbnb’s startup Beyond Pricing raised $42 million in a September funding round, and has grown from covering 26 cities to 7,000, and from four employees to 60. It raised $1.5 million in its first round and then $2 million in 2016. The platform helps Airbnb users manage their property prices using an algorithm that calculates numerous factors.

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