‘It was an invasion of our privacy’

IT consultant Andrew Barker and his family were holidaying in the UK when they discovered a hidden camera live streaming footage to an Airbnb host.

The family stumbled on the find when connecting to the free house wifi and discovering a camera on the list of networks.

Mr Barker then found the actual device, hidden in a smoke alarm in the living room and sending a live video feed to the Airbnb host.

“It felt like a huge invasion of our privacy,” Mr Barker’s wife, Nealie, told the ABC.

“The kids felt worried that the host might be a scary stalker type and we knew he had remote access to the front door, so could, in theory, enter the property.

“We really had no clue whether our safety was at risk or not or whether there were other cameras in the house.”

The family approached the Airbnb host who denied the existence of the camera. When presented with the irrefutable evidence, he said he installed it to protect his property, but would not say whether footage was being recorded.

Photo: Facebook 

The family was also upset at Airbnb’s response to the incident. Airbnb refused both to remove the accommodation listing and to mention that a hidden camera was onsite. This type of information is required by Airbnb Standards & Expectations, which states:

“We prohibit any surveillance devices that are in or that observe the interior of certain private spaces (such as bedrooms and bathrooms) regardless of whether they’ve been disclosed.”

Airbnb later said its “original handling” of the matter wasn’t up to scratch and has offered the Barkers a full refund.

It also claimed that matters such as these were quite rare, which also turns out to be a furphy.

The ABC found that it may not be as rare as travellers may hope.

In a study of 1000 complaints lodged with Airbnb about “unsafe and unacceptable conditions”, the third most common complaint included mentions of hidden cameras.

The Barkers are now lobbying Airbnb for stricter rules regarding hidden cameras as well as harsher penalties for breaking these rules.

Read more at Travel Weekly.

What would you do if you found a hidden camera in your Airbnb or hotel room?

Related articles:
Hidden cameras in hotel rooms
Are Airbnb hosts spying on you?
Airbnb: Great until it’s not

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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