Is it legal for Airbnb hosts to spy on guests?

Will you be spied upon during your next Airbnb stay?

Airbnb is rising up the accommodation booking charts, with many travellers preferring the comforts of home over hotels and hostels.

But along with those comforts can come the risk of being spied on by concerned homeowners who’ve installed surveillance equipment in the properties.

Is it legal?

According to Airbnb, so long as the hosts properly disclose the cameras to potential guests, by showing a photo in the listing and/or outlining them in the property description, it is.

“We require hosts to clearly disclose any security cameras in writing on their listings and we have strict standards governing surveillance devices in listings,” says Airbnb.

Is it an invasion of privacy or just an added layer of security for those who own properties listed on Airbnb?

Well, so long as the cameras are obvious, pre-disclosed and not hidden in the bedroom or bathroom, it is not considered an invasion of privacy, says Airbnb.

“If you find a truly hidden camera in your bedroom or bathroom, AirBnB will support you. If you find an undisclosed camera in the private living room, Airbnb will not support you,” says Jeffrey Bigham, a computer science professor at a US university.

How does the Australian legal system view security cameras? As reported by Peter Needham on ETB Travel News, ‘it varies from state to state, and some of the legislation was framed originally with listening devices in mind, later expanded to cameras’.

The Australian Information Commissioner notes: “Surveillance cameras operated by individuals are not covered by the Privacy Act 1988, but they may be covered by State or Territory law, and the police may be able to help you for very serious matters.

“State laws generally regulate the installation and use of CCTV. You can contact the Attorney General’s Department in your state or territory for more information on your state or territory’s surveillance and monitoring laws.”

Do you think it’s appropriate for Airbnb owners to have security cameras on their properties? Had you spared a thought that you may be spied upon during your Airbnb stay?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    2nd Feb 2019
    I would think most people would accept and even expect external security cameras. It's when they are internal that the issues arise. People expect privacy and they have a right to it.

    I was under the impression that covert recording was illegal. So if all recording devices are openly declared and highly visible and the renter is told about them before booking then at least they can make an informed choice. Otherwise it is spying and I would think most people would object to being spied on.
    La Verne
    2nd Feb 2019
    As a former Air BnB superhost I have to say that there have been occasions when I wished I did have a security camera! Like the time I suspected I had a pedophile staying in my Air BnB unit due to the screams of a little 8 year old boy after the male person he was with received another male into the unit (who was not part of the original book) late at night!! I contacted a police woman friend the next morning who advised me to go to the local Police Station with my suspicions and the number plates of both males. Unfortunately, the duty policeman showed very little interest in my complaint!! My policewoman friends who did not live locally and was attached to a police station some distance away, commented that this was the trouble with AirBnB because there are no CCTV cameras that routinely photograph guests in hotels/motels. Silver
    pedro the swift
    2nd Feb 2019
    Can of black spray paint! Problem solvered( as the add went).
    pedro the swift
    3rd Feb 2019
    hotels/motels are not allowed to "spy" on guests so why should BNBs be any different. I would not allow anyone to "spy" on me in a room I have booked. Cameras would suddenly cease to function. Even if you agreed to being "spied" on what would you do if they posted it on social media if they thought it might be "fun" and you had agreed to being "spied" on.
    Even TV programs have to have a "release form " to be signed to allow them to show your pics.

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