19th Apr 2019
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Family being watched by Airbnb host
Family being watched by Airbnb host

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?

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    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Magic Touch
    20th Apr 2019
    8:00am
    Check up with your travel insurance that if you lost your ducument did it cover when you stay in airbnb. Because there are thing that are hard to tell if you stay with airbnb not a hotel. Hotel are more safe than airbnb, it might cause more but they are well taken care of when you had a problem. You don,t want to ruin your holiday like that. I am not opposing you, because when that a problem you are on your own..
    Troubadour
    20th Apr 2019
    11:24am
    We never liked the idea of Air b'n'b too many uncertainties, and this is one of them. If the owners were being awkward and you could not get any satisfaction from them I think I would go to the Police - but then again that would depend on where the Air b'n'b was!!
    Our preferred accommodation is a nice Bed and Breakfast place, with good reviews
    On the Ball
    20th Apr 2019
    11:55am
    Here's how to tell if there is a camera watching you. This works.
    Most (all?) surveillance cameras have night vision: Infra-red LEDs light the space. We humans cant see infra-red light. But your mobile phone (and camera) can.
    So switch your phone's camera on and "scan" around the room, especially areas you suspect a camera to be in.
    You will see, on the camera screen, a circle of very bright white lights. The camera is in the middle.
    Use tape to cover up the area or you could get very creative with some other gunk! (After you write out an appropriate sign and hold it up to the camera!).
    Then please, put that fact in your reviews! Spread the word. This particular Airbnb wont get any more customers.
    B5YCK
    20th Apr 2019
    12:34pm
    The best reply, better than the one I posted.
    SFR
    20th Apr 2019
    1:11pm
    Thanks, great tip
    B5YCK
    20th Apr 2019
    12:32pm
    I would stand on a chair and short circuit the device or cut the wires. I always carry a tool bag with me.
    Eddy
    20th Apr 2019
    11:40pm
    I personally steer clear of any of the 'new' business models like Airbnb, Uber and the like. A proper hotel, BnB or hostel and a proper taxi or hire car give me more confidence I am dealing with reputable people. I am suspicious that some of these 'sharing' business models do not carry an appropriate level of insurance or nave criminal background checks on the operators.


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