Airbnb 2020 Law Enforcement Transparency Report


Airbnb is committed to protecting the safety of its community of users as well as protecting their data privacy rights.  The 2020 Transparency Report is the 5th such report that Airbnb has published as a means of offering transparency and insight into the requests for user information we receive from law enforcement and government authorities globally, and how we respond to these requests. 

This report provides information regarding law enforcement requests that Airbnb has received during the period of January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. 

Types of Requests We Receive

While criminal incidents related to the use of our platform remain rare, Airbnb actively works with law enforcement to protect the safety of its hosts, guests and our community at large, while balancing the need to protect their privacy. In 2020, Airbnb received the following types of requests from law enforcement and government agencies globally:

  • General Inquiries: Questions in relation to how to request information on a user. 
  • Legal Process Requests: Requests seeking information including personal information about users of the Airbnb platforms in the form of legal process, such as formal written requests, subpoenas, court orders, or search warrants, addressed to the relevant Airbnb entity.
  • Emergency Disclosure Requests: These requests involve an imminent risk of death or serious physical injury to any person. Airbnb has a dedicated team to respond to these requests globally 24/7.  If Airbnb reasonably believes the situation constitutes an emergency, Airbnb may disclose data to law enforcement on an emergency basis.
  • Preservation Orders: In certain (and rare) scenarios, Airbnb may be requested to preserve a copy of user data for a specified period of time while a valid legal process for the data is obtained. 
  • MLATs: Airbnb receives a user data request from a foreign agency via the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) process. In these instances where the originating country is known to us, Airbnb reports the request under the originating country. Where the originating country is not known, Airbnb reports the request under its Irish entity, through which most MLAT requests are received. 

How We Respond to Requests

Airbnb has a dedicated global team that evaluates each request for legal validity in accordance with our Terms of ServicePrivacy PolicyLaw Enforcement Guidelines, and applicable laws and regulations. In most instances, Airbnb requires the submission of a valid legal process request in order to be in a position to consider disclosing user information, whether or not service has been properly effected for the request. 

Depending on the case in question, law enforcement agencies may request different types of user data. For example, requested data may include user account information, information pertaining to transactions conducted on our platform, and in some instances, subject to specific legal process in certain jurisdictions, contents of communications.

Airbnb’s Law Enforcement Guidelines describe our process for receiving and evaluating requests from law enforcement and government authorities. Where Airbnb identifies a deficiency in a legal process request for user information, the requesting authority is informed about the deficiency along with an indication of what the appropriate process would be in order to be effective. Law enforcement may not always elect to pursue the request by obtaining a compliant legal process or correcting the deficiency, which means Airbnb consequently does not disclose the related user information.

In certain emergency situations,  Airbnb will disclose user information without legal process, when we have reason to believe, in good faith, that the disclosure of information is required to prevent the imminent risk of death or serious physical injury to any person.

Notification to Users

When we receive a request from law enforcement or government authorities seeking a user’s personal information, it is Airbnb’s policy to notify users, unless we are legally prohibited from doing so, such as by a non-disclosure order. Airbnb may also choose not to notify users for additional reasons listed in our Privacy Policy, such as if we have reason to believe that this would create or increase the risk of injury, bodily harm to an individual or group (e.g. emergencies related to imminent threat to life, terrorism, child sexual exploitation, or human trafficking) or notice would be futile, ineffective, or create or increase a risk of fraud upon or harm to Airbnb, our Members, or expose Airbnb to a claim of obstruction of justice. 

Where Airbnb identifies a legal deficiency in a non-disclosure order, Airbnb’s practice is to inform the requesting law enforcement authority about the deficiency and indicate what the appropriate process would be in order to be effective. In the case of valid non-disclosure orders, Airbnb’s policy is to comply with the non-disclosure order unless the order is withdrawn by the requesting law enforcement authority (or formally challenged by Airbnb).

Key Law Enforcement Response Statistics – Jan. 1, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2020

Law Enforcement Requests Received

During the period covered by this report, Airbnb received legal process requests from 49 countries/regions. These requests come from various law enforcement and government authorities, globally.

Total law enforcement requests for user information  Total requests where some form of legal process was served (includes invalid/incomplete legal process) Total requests for which at least some user information was disclosed Total user accounts affected by disclosure
6,219 3,172 1,559 7,117

Key Notes: 

  • User Accounts Affected: Legal process requests from law enforcement sometimes include requests for more than one user account. Accounts “affected” means the total number of accounts for which at least some information was disclosed in response to law enforcement requests. Where a country’s/region’s number indicates a higher number of ‘user accounts affected’ than ‘requests for which at least some account information was disclosed’, this is due to one or more requests calling for information in relation to a number of user accounts to be disclosed, for reasons justified by the legal process received. 
  • Invalid Legal Process Requests:  30.5% of the requests received during 2020 were either invalid / incomplete requests or did not comply with our policies, Law Enforcement Guidelines, or applicable laws and therefore we did not disclose user information. 
    • The majority of these invalid requests involved legally deficient process from law enforcement. 
    • The remainder of these requests involved legally valid process, but were determined to be either overbroad with regard to the scope of data requested, or law enforcement was unable to demonstrate how the requested Airbnb data was reasonably related to the crime under investigation, if that was a requirement for such a request.
  • All other legal process submitted by law enforcement resulted in user information being disclosed because it complied with Airbnb’s Law Enforcement Guidelines and applicable laws.

Disclosure Rates: 

Disclosure rate by region where law enforcement submitted some form of legal process are: 

North America 62.95%
Europe, Middle East  and Africa 38.91%
Asia Pacific  19.82%
Latin America 36.00%

The disclosure rate is substantially affected by whether law enforcement follows up on our initial response when their request and/or non-disclosure order is not in compliance with Airbnb’s Law Enforcement Guidelines and applicable laws. In addition, there are cases where we do not have any responsive user account information, even though the law enforcement request may be valid, and as a result there is no information to disclose.

Legal Process Requests by Country/Region Jan. 1, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2020

Country/Region Requests Received Requests for Which at Least Some Account Information was Disclosed Disclosure Rate (%) Number of User Accounts Affected by Disclosure
Argentina 8 5 62.50% 5
Australia 250 64 25.60% 78
Austria 21 10 47.62% 14
Belgium 11 5 45.45% 10
Brazil 61 13 21.31% 19
Canada 54 30 55.56% 52
Chile 2 1 50.00% 1
China 9 3 33.33% 6
Colombia 1 1 100.00% 1
Costa Rica 2 0 0.00% 0
Croatia 3 1 33.33% 1
Czech Republic 6 1 16.67% 1
Denmark 6 3 50.00% 9
Ecuador 1 0 0.00% 0
Estonia 3 2 66.67% 2
Finland 4 1 25.00% 5
France 497 203 40.84% 307
Georgia 3 3 100.00% 3
Germany 437 207 47.37% 250
Greece 8 1 12.50% 1
Hong Kong 3 1 33.33% 1
Hungary 6 4 66.67% 4
Ireland 37 11 29.73% 31
Italy 120 23 19.17% 35
Japan 8 2 25.00% 11
Korea 18 4 22.22% 6
Latvia 1 0 0.00% 0
Malaysia 1 0 0.00% 0
Malta 3 1 33.33% 1
Mexico 11 2 18.18% 3
Montenegro 1 0 0.00% 0
Netherlands 10 3 30.00% 4
New Zealand 8 2 25.00% 3
Norway 4 1 25.00% 2
Poland 29 10 34.48% 10
Portugal 29 3 10.34% 3
Russia 1 1 100.00% 1
Singapore 8 2 25.00% 6
Slovenia 1 1 100.00% 1
South Africa 2 0 0.00% 0
Spain 405 115 28.39% 143
Sweden 15 7 46.67% 21
Switzerland 13 6 46.15% 8
Taiwan 5 0 0.00% 0
United Kingdom 279 127 45.52% 193
United States 779 548 70.35% 5,875*
Total 3,176 1,428 7,125

*A small number of US requests related to short-term rental regulations resulted in the disclosure of information on multiple accounts per request, which resulted in an increase in the number of accounts affected in comparison to past years.

Emergency Disclosure Requests by Country/Region Jan. 1, 2020 – Dec. 31, 2020

Country/Region Requests for Which at Least Some Account Information was Disclosed Number of User Accounts Affected by Disclosure
Australia 14 21
Canada 32 34
China 1 1
Czech Republic 1 1
Denmark 1 1
France 3 3
Germany 1 1
Mexico 1 1
Netherlands 1 1
Poland 1 1
South Korea 2 3
Sweden 1 1
Switzerland 1 1
United Kingdom 23 24
United States 53 59
Total 135 152