Airbnb tells China users personal data to be stored locally

November 1, 2016 7:27 AM EDT

A 3D printed people's models are seen in front of a displayed Airbnb logo in this illustration taken, June 8, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration


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BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. short-term rental company Airbnb Inc has told Chinese users that it will store their personal data locally as foreign tech companies operating in China respond to increasing regulatory pressure.

The firm said in an email sent to Chinese users on Tuesday that personal data will be "transferred to, stored, used and processed by Airbnb China… in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations."

The comments follow a blog post last week in which Airbnb announced the launch of a separate Chinese entity which will oversee the management of local data from next month.

Along with the launch of the new Chinese entity, Airbnb also announced a series of agreements with local city authorities, including Shenzhen, Chongqing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

China has exerted increasing pressure on foreign tech companies operating within the country over the past year.

On Monday the country's parliament held a second reading of a draft cyber security law that could require foreign technology firms to store certain "important business data" locally, including personal data.

Airbnb is not the only company to proactively move user data to local servers. Consumer electronics giant Apple began using servers provided by China Telecom Corp Ltd <0728.HK> on Chinese soil from August 2014.

Airbnb saw a fivefold increase in outbound Chinese customers in 2015, making it one of the company's fastest-growing such markets.

Airbnb is facing a handful of highly-funded rivals in the local Chinese market, including Tujia.com, which raised $300 million in August 2015, valuing the home-rental site at over $1 billion.

Xiaozhu.com, often dubbed China's Airbnb clone, also raised fresh funding in the third quarter of 2015, taking in $60 million at a valuation of over $300 million.

That is small compared with the fund raising for Airbnb in September that give it a valuation of $30 billion.

Chinese short term rental services also include value added services, including Tujia's cleaning services for high-end listings.

Xiaozhu offers a service where users can have a staff member visit individual houses and offer tips for improving listings.

(Reporting by Catherine Cadell; Editing by Keith Weir)



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