Airbnb Chief Trust Officer Sean Joyce left the company after just six months in 2019 because the former FBI deputy director took issue with the company’s data sharing practices in China, according to a report in Wall Street Journal.
For years, Airbnb has revealed that it shares information such as phone numbers and email addresses with the Chinese government when a user books a rental in China. This happens whether the user is a Chinese citizen or a foreign visitor – a policy required by all hotel companies operating in the country. Joyce, who Airbnb hired in May 2019 to protect the platform̵
Airbnb’s Chinese business is specifically mentioned in S-1 filing, which the company announced Monday ahead of its scheduled initial IPO. “If [China’s rental] rules or their interpretation will change in the future, “the prospectus reads,” we could be forced to cease our operations in China. “
U.S. technology companies have had to navigate difficult relationships with China for years. China is currently blocking large companies like Facebook and Google from failing to comply with government requests for information. Others like Apple make a big profit in the country, but 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 radical surveillance has often generated backlash from employees. Despite this, U.S. companies have continued to provide the tools to monitor and censor China’s marginalized societies, such as Uighur Muslims, including the use of DNA databases to track their movements. These actions have directly led to the persecution and detention of the group.
Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company is in a so-called “quiet period” due to its IPO archiving, where there are restrictions on what the company’s spokespersons and managers are allowed to say.