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back to article Hotel marketplace Airbnb: Show us your privates if you want to book a bed

San Francisco-based hotel-booking biz Airbnb wants a quarter of its users in the US to provide passports or driving licences when reserving a room. The company, which describes itself as a "trusted community marketplace" for people to list and book accommodation around the world, said that there was "no place for anonymity" on …

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FAIL

Insert title here.....

Hell will freeze over! Good reason to never do business with this company.

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Meh

Meh

Won't be doing business with them, then.

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There is NO CHANCE I will be handing my passport details to some random American company, to store for some unspecified reason.

Giving it to the American authorities, fair enough, as they need the information for me to enter the country and they are the authority charged with using that info. Some American company that just holds it so that other American companies can use this info to verify you? Not a chance.

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You are aware I assume that proposed legislation like CISPA that keeps on getting put forward would loosen controls between government and private industry where the sharing of personal data is concerned?

Don't assume your information will be safe with the government.

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Don't assume your information will be safe with the government

I never assume that. Some minister will leave their briefcase on a train or something and some random list of peoples details will become public knowledge.

I also see no reason to store the documents beyond a few days to enable the validation has been done. All they are doing is painting a huge "hack us" target on their back.

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Anonymous Coward

Jack Reacher says No

Nuff said.

Especially as less than 20% of 'Merikans have a frigging passport anyway...

They will want you Id for playing with $$$ bills next. Oh wait....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Jack Reacher says No

Especially as less than 20% of 'Merikans have a frigging passport anyway...

Though about 99.9% will have driving licenses and many of the remaining 0.1% probably have "id cards" issued by the DMV (US equiv of DVLA ) as since the driving licence has become a de facto id card in the US they now issue what amounts to a diriving licence for non-drivers so they have id. You're not going to get very far in the US with out a driving licence!

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HAH! Yeah, err, no thanks.

They can go and jump. And not just for the passport stuff but for the social network crap too. I don't see any reason for them to have either bit of info, and in particular deciding that they will simply require those of us living in countries with strongaer-than-the-US data protection laws to go along with their half-assed crap is a great way to get themselves consigned to the dustbin of history.

Given how much grief you effectively doom yourself to for the rest of your life for having a single instance of passport theft (be it physical theft or duplication/identity theft), the risks involved in letting some shower of twits with no guaranteed ability to provide a good level of security for the information they're demanding far outweigh any benefit likely to arise from doing business with them.

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JDX
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Re: HAH! Yeah, err, no thanks.

"And not just for the passport stuff but for the social network crap too"

Presumably that's for those who are happy to use their FB logon as a SSO rather than having 8 gazillion accounts, which is fair enough as long as it's not mandatory.

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Scanned ID? haven't they heard of photoshop?

So what's to stop you just grabbing any old driving licence and changing the name to the name of the new FB account you just created?

There's no verification of any of these documents, and all it does is instil a false sense of security into anyone who thinks that people who provide these (extra) forms of identity are for real.

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Stop

Imagine the resale value of verified names!

Given the US's privacy laws, linking Facebook profiles to real-life people will be marketing gold for Air BnB to sell on! Or even better, the tax-man can tie the rentals to a real-life person to make sure they are paying taxes, or Air BnB can sell landlords a check to make sure their tenants aren't sub-letting through Air BnB.

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WTF?

Haven't they visited 419eater.com ?

Hell, no need to photoshop. There are plenty of convenient passport and other ID documents to download at 419eater or any other 419 scammer related sites.

They've just hit on a genius plan to get an amazing amount of crazy IDs which are of no use to man nor beast.

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FAIL

Re: Haven't they visited 419eater.com ?

well you clearly haven't, muppet

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Anonymous Coward

AIRBNBFO

Not April 1 again is it?

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Stop

Madness

Why would I give all those details to a commercial company?

What happens when they sell up?

What happens if they go bust?

Won't this make them a massive target for hackers?

I don't see any benefit on giving my passport to book a hotel?! Never needed it online before.

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Anonymous Coward

Key point missing here...

Airbnb is not another hotel search site; these are bookings primarily in private residences (think "VRBO").

There is a serious issue with people using this as a means to gain entry to properties for nefarious purposes. Corporate hotels have means of dealing with/absorbing the impact of somebody coming in and trashing their properties.... private homeowners renting out a room do not.

Airbnb needs a way to validate who is making a booking, and provide authorities a means of tracking down who exactly stole Grandma's lamp.

This may not be the answer, but they need SOME answer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Key point missing here...

Key point to me is that it's a right royal rip-off of the freebie traveler concept, as per hospitalityclub.org, globalfreeloaders, and, err, the other one with the cool name. Which managed to implement a network of trust and document validation without it all being handed over to a commercial entity.

And I hope that all these airbnb hosts are being inspected by the relevant authorities for compliance with fire and hygiene regulations, declaring income on their tax returns, etc...

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Anonymous Coward

Bollocks to that

As things stand you'd just cancel the booking and try again (clearing cookies and maybe a quick IP change) and hope you're not one of the unlucky 20%. What is the purpose of this (other than a data mining exercise). As with other sites that have tried this (yes you Pixmania) the 'security' reasons are just bollocks - i.e. they say it is to 'verify credit card fraud is not happening' but they take the money from your credit card BEFORE they confirm your identity (in fact Pixmania wanted to use my ID to "confirm my address" - even though address is not on a passport - lol). [I cancelled the order by the way, as they were not having a copy of my passport].

Hopefully somebody will identify the liberties they are taken and start-up a hotel booking company that respects your privacy - and let's hope AirBnB go bust as a result. I spend far too long telling people not to give this information out, only to have companies like this start to demand it - as you can tell, I'm angry. Grrr.

The other part of the article (about government federated identification) should also raise a few eyebrows. The idea is that the more information you know (date of birth, mothers maiden name, address, postcode, NI number, passport number, etc) the more likely you are who you say you are. The fact that a LOT of this is in the public domain (DoB, mother maiden name, address/post code, etc) means that this bits that aren't (such as passport number) need to be guarded even more closely - not dished out to hotel booking sites. Again..Grrrrr.

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zb

Re: Bollocks to that

AC said

"As things stand you'd just cancel the booking and try again (clearing cookies and maybe a quick IP change) and hope you're not one of the unlucky 20%"

No, that could not happen. To book you have to register on the site, prove ID by mobile phone and prepay a non-refundable deposit by credit card. Nothing to do with cookies and IP

I have used them quite a lot in the past and found the whole system very good. It is a shame as if they start doing stuff like this I am going to have to find an alternative.

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Anonymous Coward

Never heard of them (an I book a lot of hotels)

I hope the next time I hear of them it is because they are having their sorry ass dragged into an EU court, or just the news that they have gone bust due to customer refusal to be idiots.

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FAIL

Re: Never heard of them (an I book a lot of hotels)

@ac 15:38 - If you'd bothered to find out what airbnb did you wouldn't have used such a catastrophically stupid title ...

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zb

Re: Never heard of them (an I book a lot of hotels)

Probably because airbnb is nothing to do with hotels.

Hint: the BnB bit stands for bed and breakfast. Most of the locations are in private homes or small investors' lettings.

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Devil

Die a painful death AIRBNB!

I won't even hand this info to the Federal Government unless they have "Just Cause" and a warrant to get the info.

Any property rental company would simply take a scan of my license when I arrived to get the keys and be done with it. There is absolutely no reason to have more info than that. Property owners who are concerned about losses need to keep the valuable knick knacks out of the rentals.

AIRBNB needs to be stricken from the Internet for even asking for this detailed level of info. And they have the audacity to store it online???

So I would assume they have 3 factor logins (for everyone) and 256 bit FIPS approved encryption of EVERYTHING????

Not....

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Anonymous Coward

Existing Customer Speaks

I love AirBNB - I have used it several times and will continue to do so.

I am more than happy to leave a hefty deposit on my credit card - but there's no way they are having any of my other documents.

Classic badly thought out solution - any criminal will be able to get false documents etc - after all they are not going to provide their real documents. So it's really honest people who will be the ones who are actually trusting airbnb with their most valued documents.

I will stop using this service as soon as it asks me for more than my typed in details and my credit card number.

I've also used Wimdu which is a good alternative site. They will be my first port of call if airbnb go all big brother on us.

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Bear in mind that most continental hotels will require a photocopy of your passport when you turn up, so that information is going to leak in any case if you're travelling in Europe.

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Stop

> Bear in mind that most continental hotels will require a photocopy of your passport

Really? In my experience European hotels just want a credit card, it's only US hotels that ask for photo ID as well.

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Booking hotels and hostels in China, Japan, S Korea. etc

Require foreigners to surrender (temporarily, for immigration and law enforcement reasons) one's passport during the on-site registration/room assignment process.

In all three of those locations, even in Vietnam, I had to.

I am not stating this to defend AirBnB, as they've got other issues, such as not prominently or at all stating on their site that the renter or owner of the rental property must pay local taxes (in SF, the Hotel Tax is 14%, which would savage AirBnB if locally compelled to pay the tax all the other legit hotels must pay, even in SROs, I think), and currently, AirBnB is not being made to pay those required taxes locally. IIRC, New York has outright banned AirBnB from operating in NY until they make reparations and until they collect and remit taxes moving forward.

But, there is another thought: I think that (given the number of spammings of AirBnB on my fb wall about "your friend (name) likes AirBnB", as if i really give a flying frack) fb and airbnb are entering the top-bottom ritual dance to join at the hip. I suspect that one approached the other for courtship, but that fb probably said, "Bend OVER if you want to be on our platform.

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Big Brother

Re: Booking hotels and hostels in China, Japan, S Korea. etc

They don't do this in Europe anymore? When I was in Paris in the late 80s, they wanted to keep my passport in their safe or they wouldn't let me rent a room.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Booking hotels and hostels in China, Japan, S Korea. etc

That is why I always carry TWO passports with me. both are legal btw.

I travel extensively on business and some countries take 2-3 weeks to issue visa's . Having another passport allows me to travel while one is away for processing.

I only ever give hotels the details of the passport I used to enter that country. Some countries need to take copies of your passport for local legal reasons.

Thankfully the instances of hotels laying claim to your passport seem to have gone the way of the Dodo. you get into much more trouble with the local Gendarmarie if you can't show them some valid ID when demanded.

I won't ever give a site like this my passport details. They would probably give it up to the Feds in an instant. Then woe betide you coming up in their DB;s that you have two passports. Gitmo here you come because to them only Terrorists need two passports.

Yeah right, try getting into most Arab countries with a Israeli stamp in your passport.

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Re: Booking hotels and hostels in China, Japan, S Korea. etc

Most countries in Europe have laws requiring hotels and hostels to record the identity of their guests, using either a passport or internationally recognised ID document. The UK, Germany, Spain & France are definitely included, it may even be an EU wide law in exchange for the opening of borders.

At no stage do they actually hold on to the document though, it is simply handed over to the clerk who confirms your identity and records the number and type of document, then hands it back with the room key.

As I understand it, the records can be accessed by police or border control services when required, usually for the purposes of tracing missing persons.

Sure beats the biometric registration that the US insists on for foreigners, with all 10 fingers and photograph.

I'm sure that will *never* end up misused ...

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endeavour to secure a protection

Is that code for...

We'll have a brief discussion, weigh the negatives (it will cost us, we'll have to pay lawyers) against the positives (ooh everyone's IDs for marketing and selling on), and say well we tried. Now lets see who wants to buy these lists.

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Big Brother

Just when I was thinking of using Airbnb...

Guess it's time to change my mind....

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FAIL

Privacy!

They're doing it wrong.

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Don't we do this already???

When we stay in a hotel???

Same principle Shirley?

Whilst I can't say I'm comfortable with the idea of some company holding my ID on a database, who's to say it's not already happened?

Used Airbnb quite a lot on my travels, and I think the angle here is reassurance that the stranger who is coming to stay at your house is who they say they are. It relies on feedback for a large part and after a couple of stays with some positive reviews we had no problem with people accepting us as guests, but when you start from scratch people are understandably hesitant. This is meant to be a more upmarket version of Couchsurfers, so in essence relies on people using it to be people who want to meet other people by opening their homes up to them and the guests being the same type of people.

Worked brilliantly for us but also heard some other not so good stories about houses getting trashed.

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