BEIJING: US 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 e-mail sent to Chinese users on Nov 1 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 Oct 31 the country's parliament held a second reading of a draft cybersecurity 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 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 US$300mil (RM1.25bil) in August 2015, valuing the home-rental site at over US$1bil (RM4.18bil).
Xiaozhu.com, often dubbed China's Airbnb clone, also raised fresh funding in the third quarter of 2015, taking in US$60mil (RM251.37mil) at a valuation of over US$300mil (RM1.25bil).
That is small compared with the fund raising for Airbnb in September that give it a valuation of US$30bil (RM125.68bil).
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. — Reuters
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