The former Airbnb chief trust officer was so concerned about how much user data the internet giant was sharing with China that he resigned after only six months in office last year.
Sean Joyce, former Airbnb chief trust officer – also a former deputy director of the FBI – reportedly resigned last year over concerns about how much user data the company shared with China.
Joyce was hired as the company’s first chief trust officer in May 2019 to keep users safe on the platform. However, after only six months in office, he abruptly resigned from his leadership position “because he had concerns about how the massive rental platform exchanges data on millions of its users with Chinese authorities,” sources told the Wall Street Journal.
“Joyce was alerted during his tenure that the company was not completely transparent about the data it shares with the ruling Chinese Communist Party government, including Americans traveling to the country,” sources said. “He was also concerned about Airbnb’s willingness to accommodate larger data requests from China.”
Airbnb, which went public this week In that filing, he admitted that “the ability to continue doing business in China is a risk factor to its brand and profitability,” claiming that he has always made information exchanges with Chinese authorities transparent.
However, Joyce felt that most people did not know how much data was being shared, including “phone numbers, email addresses, and messages between users and the company,” according to the WSJ.
“We are committed to being transparent to our community and making our data policy clear to all of our hosts and guests by giving users a clear message when they are on the platform and through several other notifications,” said Nick Papas , Airbnb spokesman, the newspaper said.
When Joyce reached out for comment, Joyce told the WSJ “he had a” difference in values ”with Airbnb” and declined to comment.
According to the paper, Chinese officials asked for more data last summer – specifically, “real-time data” that would alert them when someone first books a property. This alarmed Joyce, who “feared that such a data exchange would allow surveillance by the Chinese government and endanger members of ethnic minorities such as oppressed Muslim-majority Uyghurs”.
Joyce warned Chief Executive Brian Chesky and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk, who heads Airbnb’s China unit, to whom Blecharczyk reportedly said, “We’re not here to promote American values” – and prompted Joyce to resign.