Since 2014, rumors have been abound regarding popular short-term rental service Airbnb having their properties used for sex trafficking purposes, as well as that of slavery. Earlier on Monday, February 19, company honchos addressed the issue and revealed their plan to crack down on such impropriety taking place.
As reported by the Telegraph, a statement was given to the Thomson Reuters Foundation in which Airbnb officials revealed that they were investing in new technology which will help prevent acts of prostitution from occurring inside their rentals. In addition, a collaboration is being made with a trafficking charity in order to properly train employees in matters such as these, as well as to aid in the development of new systems and team efforts with local law enforcement agencies. The United Kingdom in particular is one of the main countries said to be party to the aforementioned “pop-up brothels” in the Airbnb homes available for rent.
Only three days ago, the BBC reported that officials in Oxford believe that these brothels had seen quite the rise lately as a result of short-term leases, in addition to out-of-control parties and raucous behavior on the whole. City councilors were much dismayed to see many letting rules repeatedly broken, with many pushing for ministers to force through a license requirement for landlords wishing to lease their home short-term.
A statement was also provided by Airbnb’s Global Head of Trust and Risk Management, Nick Shapiro, who says the company is taking a “modern approach to combating modern slavery.” They will achieve this goal, he goes on to explain, by “leveraging the innovation of the sharing economy” in order for employees and heads of company to prevent potential exploitation and the like before it is able to take place.
Airbnb will combine their already existing methods of risk analysis, which include host screening and examining pictures taken in said rental homes, with those used by Polaris, the sex trafficking charity in charge of the US National Human Trafficking Hotline. Polaris will provide the rental service with their own data and insight into potential criminal activity taking place, and together they believe a full crack-down can be seen in the near future. Between January 2015 and September 2017, Polaris identified over 2,500 victims of slavery who had been forcibly trafficked in the United States alone.
Founded back in 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb has become one of the most popular lodging services in the world over the past decade. Now valued at approximately 31 billion dollars, the company operates in almost 200 countries.