Airbnb China notified users Wednesday that, as required by law, guest information will soon be automatically logged with the government.
Previously, hosts were required to submit passport and other travel information to Chinese authorities, but now data is shared automatically and, as the email to users mentioned, without notice to guests. The new policy goes into effect beginning March 30th.
In a statement to Bloomberg, an Airbnb spokesman said the move was necessary to require with the country’s laws: “Like all businesses operating in China, Airbnb China must comply with local laws and regulations. The information we collect is similar to information hotels in China have collected for decades.”
As explained by Technode’s Beijing-based reporter, hotels throughout China routinely log guest information with local police bureaus, which maintain the government’s database. International travelers, if they’re not staying at a hotel or guesthouse (perhaps in a dorm or with a guest family), must still register with local authorities upon their arrival, sometimes directly to police.
China has made headlines all year for its expansive and troubling surveillance capabilities. Face recognition is used to spot jaywalkers and travelers without proper documentation, while advanced data mining is used to “predict” criminality. The Airbnb China email doesn’t mention these surveillance fears, but gave hosts the option to “deactivate my China listing,” if they choose.