The lawsuit stems from a new regulation that requires short-term rental companies to list only housing that has been registered with the local government, reports the San Francisco Examiner. Violations would carry a $1,000 fine per day if Airbnb doesn’t make sure its hosts are registered. Airbnb says the new law violates the 1996 Communications Decency Act, under which websites are not liable for the content that users post on them. But the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office disagrees, spokesman Matt Dorsey told TechCrunch:
Nothing in San Francisco’s pending ordinance punishes hosting platforms for their users’ content. In fact, it’s not regulating user content at all—it’s regulating the business activity of the hosting platform itself. It’s simply a duty to verify information that’s already required of a regulated business activity. It’s the same principle for online vendors of alcohol and cigarettes. Businesses that sell those products have a legal duty to verify the age of their customers, whether it’s online or at the corner store, so they don’t sell alcohol and cigarettes to children. They, too, are required to verify information that’s already required for their regulated business activity.