Airbnb’s Chinese chief trust officer, Sean Joyce, left the company just six months later in 2019 because a former FBI deputy director objected to the company’s data-sharing practices in China, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
For years, Airbnb has revealed that it shares information like phone numbers and email addresses with the Chinese government when a user books rent in China. It happens whether the user is a Chinese citizen or a foreign visitor – a policy required of all hospitality companies operating in the country.
Joyce, who was hired by Airbnb in May 2019 to protect the platform’s users, was concerned about Airbnb’s willingness to share data. Joyce also objected to the scope of shared data, such as messages sent between guests and hosts, according to the Wall Street Journal reports. He was afraid that the Chinese government would be allowed to track down foreign visitors and its citizens.
Airbnb’s Chinese business was specifically mentioned in the S-1 file that the company announced on Monday ahead of its planned initial public offering. “If [leasing in China] regulations or their interpretation change in the future, we may have … to cease our operations in China,” the bulletin reads.
American tech companies have had to grapple with difficult relationships with China for years. Airbnb’s Chinese, China is currently banning major companies such as Facebook and Google for not complying with government requests for information. Others like Apple are making huge profits in the country, but they are often criticized for making concessions to the country’s government.
China is one of the largest markets in the world, but the Chinese Communist Party’s preference for rampant surveillance has often led to negative reactions from employees. Despite this, US companies have continued to provide tools to monitor and censor marginalized communities in China, such as Uyghur Muslims, including using DNA databases to track their movements. These measures have directly resulted in the persecution and detention of the group.
Airbnb didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The company is going through what is known as a “quiet period” due to the initial public offering (IPO) submission, in which there are restrictions on what company spokespeople and executives are allowed to say.
Source : theverge