Santa Monica, San Francisco Plans To Demand Private Information from Home Sharing Sites Unconstitutional After Supreme Court Rules Today That Warrants Are Required For Hotel Registry Information, Says Consumer Watchdog

Published on

SANTA MONICA, CA – A U.S. Supreme Court decision today striking down a Los Angeles Ordinance allowing police to check guest registries at motels and hotels at any time as unconstitutional supports Consumer Watchdog's position that a warrant must be required before data from home sharing networks like Airbnb is turned over to authorities.

Santa Monica has passed and San Francisco is considering an ordinance that would require home sharing sites to turn over to local governments massive mounts of data including the address, number of nights rented, and amount paid to every host that rents their home through a home sharing site.

"Both ordinances overreach and require massive amounts of personal data to be turned over to authorities on a routine basis, violating privacy," said John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project director.  "The Supreme Court has made it clear that throwing open the door to mass data collection without a search warrant is unconstitutional. Santa Monica and San Francisco need to do the right thing and respect the constitution."

Writing the 5-4-majority decision in Los Angeles vs. Patel Justice Sonia Sotomayor said:

"We hold that the provision of the Los Angeles Municipal Code that requires hotel operators to make their registries available to the police on demand is facially unconstitutional because it penalizes them for declining to turn over their records without affording them any opportunity for pre-compliance review."

Consumer Watchdog called on Santa Monica City Council to repeal the portions of its home sharing ordinance that require sharing personal data and for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to reject the home sharing ordinance sponsored by Supervisors David Campos; Eric Mar and John Avalos.

Consumer Watchdog said it does not object to requiring people offering home sharing accommodations to get a business license and to pay occupancy taxes to the city, nor does it object to the city establishing zoning restrictions that apply to home sharing.

"People using home sharing sites to offer accommodations should get a business license if required, follow zoning laws and pay their taxes," said Simpson.  "However, the blunt approach to enforcement in Santa Monica and contemplated San Francisco is unconstitutional and must not be allowed."

– 30 –

Visit our website at

John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

Latest Videos

Latest Articles

In The News

Latest Report

Subscribe to our newsletter

To be updated with all the latest news, press releases and special reports.

More articles