Airbnb has written to hosts with listings in China to inform them it will start sharing their information with Chinese government agencies within a matter of days.
In an email seen by BuzzFeed News, Airbnb China said that effective March 30, the company may disclose information to Chinese authorities "without further notice."
The email said that "like all businesses operating in China, Airbnb China must comply with local laws and regulations, including privacy and information disclosure laws."
To maintain their listings in China, hosts were then asked to agree to the new terms, while a similar email posted on Twitter instead gave hosts the option to deactivate their listing.
An Airbnb spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the information it collects is similar to information "hotels in China have collected for decades."
"Like all businesses operating in China, Airbnb China must comply with local laws and regulations," the spokesperson said.
"We’re committed to doing all we can to keep our hosts and guests informed about our work in China and we recently updated our hosts about our requirements under the law."
During China's annual Parliament session, which took place for two weeks earlier this month, Airbnb canceled all bookings and removed all listings. Searches for an Airbnb in China before March 30 brought up the message: "Due to external circumstances, homes in Beijing are unavailable through March 30."
Some Weibo users expressed regret at Airbnb's decision, which was dubbed by someone as "scary."
One Weibo user who posted the entire Airbnb email said they were "so tired...See you again if it's meant to be, Airbnb."
"If they didn't specify which kinds of messages then it must mean all of them," wrote another.
One user said that like Apple's iCloud, Airbnb "wasn't able to resist either. Sigh, powerless."
Another user asked: "Are they really that immoral?"
Matthew Champion is a deputy world news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Matthew Champion at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kassy Cho is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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