Several Airbnb hosts have placed hidden cameras in rental properties to secretly record activities, to the horror of guests who discovered the devices and realised they were being watched.
The planted cameras have launched privacy concerns for Airbnb, though company policy strictly prohibits cameras that are not disclosed in the property listings.
The short-term leasing service is facing a new wave of criticism after a viral tweet showed a “motion detector” that was actually a camera connected to the web for remote viewing.
The latest came to light on 28 November 2017, when a Jason Scott tweeted a picture of a camera hidden inside a motion detector that his unnamed colleague discovered in an Airbnb apartment. In another case at the end of last year on the outskirts of Annecy, France, people leasing a house, came upon a strange alarm clock facing the shower cubicle. The device was finally hiding an objective and a memory card, The images were streamed permanently to the owner’s smartphone, a 45-year-old computer scientist , who has been arrested.
A spokesman for the company said: “Cameras are never allowed in bathrooms or bedrooms; any other cameras must be properly disclosed to guests ahead of time. Such instances are extremely rare”.
” Under their terms and conditions it states “If you’re a host and you have any type of surveillance device in or around a listing, even if it’s not turned on or hooked up, we require that you indicate its presence in your House Rules. We also require you to disclose if an active recording is taking place. If a host discloses the device after booking, Airbnb will allow the guest to cancel the reservation and receive a refund. Host cancellation penalties may apply”.
Surveillance experts have recommended a few ways for guests to ensure they’re not being watched. For example, when staying in a hotel or an Airbnb property, guests can check for tiny holes in items put in places that provide good views of rooms, as they could be spaces for small camera lenses.
Guests can also use apps to scan for internet-connected cameras by connecting to the local Wi-Fi and seeing what other devices are connected. If there is any doubt, experts recommend unplugging the internet router to disconnect any devices that could be streaming activity to a remote viewer.