Airbnb executive quits over concerns over sharing too much data with China

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The former Airbnb trust chief was so concerned about the amount of user data the internet giant shared with China, he resigned his post last year after just six months on the job.Sean Joyce, the former director of Airbnb’s trust – also a former deputy director of the FBI – reportedly resigned last year over concerns about the amount of user data the company shared with China.

Joyce was hired as the company’s first Trust Director in May 2019 to help protect user safety on the platform – but he abruptly stepped down from his leadership role after just six months on the job. because of concerns about how the huge rental platform shares data. over millions of its users to Chinese authorities, ā€¯sources told The Wall Street Journal.

“During her tenure, Joyce was alarmed that the company was not fully transparent about the data it shares with the ruling Communist Party of China government, including for Americans traveling the country,” said sources said, according to the newspaper. “He was also concerned about what he saw as Airbnb’s willingness to consider more expansive data requests from China.”

Airbnb, which filed for publication this week and, in this case, admitted that “its ability to continue to do business in China is a risk factor for its brand and its profitability,” says it has always been transparent about its information sharing with Chinese authorities.

airbnb
Getty Images / iStockphoto

However, Joyce felt that most people didn’t know how much data was being shared, which included, according to the WSJ, “phone numbers, email addresses, and messages between users and the business.”

“We are committed to being transparent with our community and to clearly disclosing our data policies to all of our hosts and guests by displaying a clear message to users when they are on the platform and through several other notifications,” Nick Papas , a spokesperson for Airbnb, told the newspaper.

When contacted for comment, Joyce told the WSJ “he has a ‘value difference’ with Airbnb” and declined to comment further.

According to the newspaper, Chinese authorities requested more data in the summer of last year – specifically asking for “real-time data” that would alert them when someone first booked a property. This alarmed Joyce, who “feared that such data sharing would allow Chinese government surveillance and endanger members of ethnic minority groups such as the repressed Muslim-majority Uyghurs.”

Joyce sounded the alarm with chief executive Brian Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, who heads Airbnb’s China unit, to which Blecharczyk reportedly said: “We are not here to promote American values” – this which prompted Joyce to resign.

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