Judge nixes Airbnb’s suit against San Francisco over unregistered listings

Williams Pelegrin
Digital Trends
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Airbnb’s legal efforts against what the company saw as “content-based restrictions on speech” on the city of San Francisco’s part were foiled, when United States district judge decided to put those efforts to rest, reports Reuters.

Airbnb’s beef with San Francisco started in earnest back in June, when the city’s board of supervisors unanimously passed an ordinance that required Airbnb and similar services to cough up $1,000 a day for advertising unregistered properties. Airbnb responded by filing a lawsuit against the city, accusing the rental law of violating the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and the First Amendment by placing “content-based restrictions on speech by imposing civil and criminal penalties on Airbnb as a result of the publication of this content.”

Furthermore, Airbnb accused the rental law of negatively impacting its business operations and of not doing enough to fix what the company sees as a “broken registration process.” All three arguments echo the federal lawsuit Airbnb filed against New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

More: Airbnb and the city of Seattle team up to offer lodging during natural disasters

Unlike that federal lawsuit, which continues to live, Airbnb’s lawsuit against San Francisco was put to rest by U.S. District Judge James Donato, who argued that the city’s ordinance does not violate the CDA. According to Donato, the federal law “does not regulate what can or cannot be said or posted in the listings.”

Donato also contested Airbnb’s belief that San Francisco’s rental law violated the First Amendment, since the ordinance “was not motivated by a desire to suppress speech.” As a result, Donato denied the company’s request to block the city’s ordinance, though he called for future proceedings that would assess how it might be enforced.

Digital Trends reached out to Airbnb for comment and will update accordingly.