How to Scan Your Airbnb for Hidden Cameras

from Slate

Over the weekend, news outlets reported that a New Zealand man named Andrew Barker had found a camera, hidden in a smoke detector, in his Airbnb that was livestreaming a feed of the living room. Barker was in Cork, Ireland, on a 14-month trip around Europe with his family when they checked into the rental house. Once they unpacked, Barker, who works in IT security, conducted a scan of the Wi-Fi network and found a camera the owner had not mentioned. He was then able to connect to the camera and view the live feed.

The next day, the Barkers notified Airbnb, but he told the media that the company treated the incident like a canceled booking and just temporarily suspended the rooming post after a privacy investigation that the family found unsatisfactory. It wasn’t until Nealie Barker, Andrew’s wife, posted details of the incident on Facebook that Airbnb removed the listing and admitted that the original response “did not meet the high standards we set for ourselves.”

Airbnb’s terms of service dictate that hosts must disclose the presence of cameras to their guests. It’s unclear how common a practice it is for Airbnb hosts to hide cameras in their units, but if you’re particularly worried about prying eyes, there are imperfect ways to search for invasive devices. “Hidden cameras are probably rare but there are steps that an average user can take to increase their chances of finding one if one exists,” Barker wrote in an email to Slate. “Since our incident I will be performing network and ports scans at every accommodation we stay at.”
That seems like a good practice. But it also requires some knowledge. When the story hit the internet, lots of people found themselves wondering how, exactly, to scan a network. The good news is that doing network and port scans for suspicious devices on the local Wi-Fi network doesn’t require as much technical knowledge as you might fear. Nor does it require expensive gear.

More here.

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29 Responses to How to Scan Your Airbnb for Hidden Cameras

  1. Edward Holzel April 26, 2019 at 12:27 pm #

    The rise of Airbnb for home renting has been a great service. People can just sign up on Airbnb and assuming everything about their home is ok then they can rent their home easily. My friends at Wake Forest just went on a trip to Florida over spring break and used Airbnb to find a home relatively cheap. The rise of Airbnb is similar to the rise of Uber. People with material objects, cars, and homes can sell the services of those objects through an online service to gain revenue. It also makes it a lot easier for consumers to get these services. Overall, the rise of Airbnb and Uber is allowing people to have easy access to transportation and a place to rent.
    As great as Airbnb is by providing easy access to homes and cheaply, there are some drawbacks. Airbnb has just had an issue with privacy. Some Airbnb homeowners had placed cameras in their home that they are renting to monitor the renters. These cameras are being found without the renter’s consent. Obviously, the renters were extremely upset and took to the internet to express their displeasure. The question is should homeowners be able to videotape their renters. Or can Uber drivers videotape their customers without consent? The answers to both of those ethical and legal are no. You can not legally videotape anyone without consent. They can get away with videotaping if the Uber driver and/or Airbnb homeowner makes it clear that they can videotape. However, morally videotaping customers just seems invasive and unnecessary. Do you really need to videotape people when you are renting out your home? If you cannot have the slightest bit of trust or decency to inform the customers then you should not be renting out your home or vehicle.

  2. Alexander Dornbierer April 26, 2019 at 3:35 pm #

    Privacy is an important aspect in our personal lives. We step outside of public gatherings for some conversations, have private tabs open in our safari browsers, and have VPN protect our internet security. You would expect the same courtesy with your living accommodations when you stay away from your home. With the news article discussing the use of hidden cameras in Airbnb’s and hotels you cannot be sure about your privacy anywhere you go. By searching for the hidden cameras with the apps listed, looking for out of place items, such as stuffed animals, smoke detectors, and other household objects, or shining a light around to see if anything reflects the lights. Hidden Cameras have been apart of many a movie scene where they are hidden in plain sight. With movies such as The Wolf of Wall Street, Honey I Shrunk Ourselves, and many more. Hidden cameras are fun in movies and in video games but have no place being used in business, especially in two-party consent states. 11 out of the 50 states in America are two-party consent. Meaning that all parties present in a recording must consent to be recorded. An example is the movie Jackass or Bad Grandpa, they would shoot some of the scenes on the public streets. Because they were a two-party consent state, they had to blur the faces out of the people in the back because they didn’t consent to being recorded. Now it may have added to the comedic levels of the movies, they would have gotten in a lot of trouble if they didn’t blur out the faces. The two-party consent states that had the Airbnb scandal could result in harsh punishments. If a conversation is being recorded between a husband and a wife in their Airbnb and neither of them, let alone one of them, gave consent they would be breaking the law and risk putting themselves out of business and into jail.

  3. Cameron Lindley April 26, 2019 at 5:15 pm #

    Yet another article exposing privacy and technology. I think what is more concerning than learning how to scan for cameras, is that the cameras are there in the first place. When I rent an Airbnb, I expect to be able to treat it as if it were my home, just as I would do in a hotel. I value privacy highly, thus when I see these type of exposures, it really ticks me. People who rent their homes on Airbnb are already accepting all of the risks that come along with renting a house to strangers when they list their house, and Airbnb has numerous protocols in place to protect the home-owners. Therefore the fact that someone would hide a camera during a guest’s stay is rather troubling to me. Creepy at the least. After reading how Airbnb handled the European incident and considering my trust issues in privacy, I think it is definitely worth taking the time to learn how to scan for hidden cameras. I don’t want to say that a majority of Airbnb renters hide cameras, but on the off chance that I ended up staying in one where they did, I would want to know about it.
    The rise of technology in the world has increased its accessibility tremendously, to a point where people with an average understanding in technology can now perform what once used to seem as an advanced task. It will be interesting to see over the next few years the gains made in accessibility to technology. The accessibility and practicality of advanced technology holds it back from public use a fair bit, but if the rise in technology can bring with it simplifications for the public, that would be a significant advancement.
    I personally do not know how to scan a network for suspicious devices, but I think I could manage that, and definitely should.

  4. Rachel Leto April 26, 2019 at 5:56 pm #

    When I first heard about Airbnb, I was kind of sketched out and confused. A person is willing to stay in a stranger’s house just because it is cheaper than a hotel. I, personally, would never do it because some people are not trust worthy and this is a prime example of that. At this point, I have never heard of something more disgusting in my life. Hidden cameras in smoke detectors? This has most likely happened to so many people without them knowing and that is very upsetting. People probably thought that it was so absurd that it would never happen to them. Today, privacy is something that seems to be very hard to find when it comes to the internet and platforms selling your data to make money. The last thing I would want stripped away from me would be my privacy taken away from behind closed doors.
    It was lucky that Baker found the camera on a WiFi scan otherwise he would have never found the camera. The fact that it is very easy to be able to find these cameras is great. The only issue is that there are still people that do not know about these kinds of things. It is so important to be educated and know the steps to take to know how to keep yourself safe. It is very unsettling to know that the company Airbnb did not take a more serious action on the matter. They, temporarily, suspended the room, so that an investigation could take place instead of not allowing the man to host people anymore. It is time to take action and protect yourself and the fact that there are apps to help with that makes it that much easier. He, also, mentioned to take a scan around the room to see if there is anything that is out of place, like two smoke detectors in one room. All off these precautions can help you stay safe when staying away from home, even use them in hotels to make sure no one was tampering with the room.

  5. Demetri Allen April 26, 2019 at 6:27 pm #

    To me, the very concept of Airbnb amazes me. It is 100% because of this new age of digital transformation that one of the largest hotel companies in the world owns zero property. That is just astounding, but unfortunately not having any ownership of the property comes at a cost. That cost is the extent of the customer. These reports of homeowners placing hidden cameras inside their Airbnb reveal how a system like this can be easily exploited. Obviously, in the terms and conditions of Airbnb, a homeowner must disclose information about the residence including if there are any cameras on the premises. The problem here is that with the way Airbnb is set up there is really not much they can do from preventing this sort of thing from happening. After all, the house does not belong to them and since the homeowner knows the house better than anyone it is quite easy for situations like this to occur. This is why moving towards a shared economy might come with some risks. Yes, it is amazing that I could be anywhere and call an Uber to pick me up, but when that driver goes on a blatant racist rant or they are a sexual predator well then it seems I am just out of luck on that ride. The problem is that these people are not truly employees they are just people doing a job. Most people with a driver’s license and a car can be an Uber driver and most people with a house could put it up on Airbnb. What I am trying to say is that there should be more criteria for hiring if we are really moving forward with this idea of a shared economy to make sure that we are working with the right people and not just any random person who could be a serial killer.

  6. Jon Sozer April 26, 2019 at 8:33 pm #

    Just as Uber revolutionized public transportation – surpasses the average daily usage of the famous yellow taxicab in NYC – Airbnb did the same for the temporary residency industry, surpassing Hilton’s annual sales in 2018. Personally I have yet to use Airbnb, but I have been talking with some friends about visiting Canada for a week in the summer, so the article presented is more relevant than ever now. Airbnb is an interesting idea, where house owners rent out their empty homes for periods of time specified by them, allowing for visitors to stay over in their home as they would for a hotel. Understandably, homeowners opening their homes to strangers to stay in overnight, and for extended periods of time, can feel hesitant to leave their homes without any security safeguards. I would think that the homeowners are well within their right to have security cameras about in their homes to help combat theft, but things get a little tricky when the existence of the cameras isn’t disclosed. Hiding cameras within one’s house without letting the guests know beforehand smells strongly of invasion of privacy, something that is sorely lacking already in our society. So, I’m torn. One one hand, I respect the homeowner’s intentions of keeping their property and belongings safe, but I also feel for the renters and their privacy. Overall, should there just had been a warning about cameras, then I feel like the situation would be much more collected and less of an uproar against the homeowner.

  7. Tyler Graham April 26, 2019 at 8:48 pm #

    Airbnb is an interesting company to talk about. From a tourist perspective, it’s a dream come true. Cheap, easy to book, “homey” housing. At its core it makes you feel less like a tourist. On top of that it is way more in tune with a location than a hotel or motel could ever dream to be. But Airbnb has seen properties that would otherwise be rented through conventional means removed from the market just to be put on Airbnb. It also sees an increase in conventional renting prices since landowners figure they could make more from an Airbnb. But that is only one of the latest controversies that surround Airbnb. The most recent one – as this article describes, is the use of hidden cameras. Some people seem to have an issue with cameras being used at all in Airbnbs, but I will disagree. I see no issue with a camera being put in a kitchen or common area to ensure that (god forbid) if something is destroyed, there is clear evidence of such. But these cameras must be disclosed. Hiding cameras, especially in sensitive rooms (bathrooms, bedrooms) is truly disgusting and I shouldn’t even have to say what the purpose of those cameras would be. Hopefully this will make people more aware of the places they’re staying in. It will also be excellent for Hotels, and I’m more than sure their marketing teams will have a field day with this news. What is most disgusting about all of this is that there are probably many more camera-filled Airbnbs that just haven’t been detected. I know for a fact that after reading this I will not be staying in any Airbnb anytime soon.

  8. Rayzan Alarashi April 29, 2019 at 9:09 pm #

    Personally, I have never used Airbnb when traveling but I am aware of its large influence and power in the hospitality industry. In my opinion, hotels will eventually become a thing of the past for many since Airbnb provides travelers with more space at cheaper rates. Hearing the incident in where an individual found a camera planted in their Airbnb that was secretly recording is no surprise to me. Privacy has become and will remain to be the biggest concern in our society today. This incident should a big indication to society that our privacy is at a large risk of being tampered with. Had that particular individual in the Airbnb not worked IT security, he would have never taken the necessary precaution which led to him finding the camera. Speaking for most, there aren’t many people today who are capable of being able to scan a network in order to find suspicious devices such as cameras recording them. I highly doubt that the thought of a secret camera recording people in their Airbnb would ever even cross peoples mind because it almost seems as if its something out of a movie. I for once know that if I’m ever put in the situation where I need to rent out an Airbnb, the first thing I plan on doing before even unpacking my bags is checking to see if there are hidden cameras I don’t know about. I’ve even downloaded the necessary app (network scanner) to do so. To my surprise, the whole process is a lot easier than what I initially expected. All it takes is connecting to a WiFi network through apps like network scanner, and then it automatically tells you all the devices that are connected to that particular network. From there, you can review each device and look for any suspicious names or devices. It’s scary to think about, but there are many people out there who find joy in invading people’s privacy and they often are never even caught. After reading this article, I’m convinced everyone will begin taking these precautions to protect their privacy, but it still disturbs to think that if something like this were to happen to me in the past, I would never have known.

  9. Allya Jaquez May 3, 2019 at 9:55 am #

    What is wrong with people trying to invade other peoples privacy! I think it is pretty ridiculous that now we have to make sure there are no hidden cameras anywhere we plan on staying. But thank goodness for Andrew Barker who had experience and was able to find the camera hiding in the living room of the Airbnb. An Airbnb is a definitely a little more cheaper than a hotel and it is becoming more common for individuals. Because Mr. Barker was experienced in the IT field, he was able to speak our and protect his family before they were to be exposed. I do not see a purpose in hiding a camera in the living room of an Airbnb. We never know what the individual behind the camera will do with the footage and it is just mind blowing to me. I am very surprised that the process to check for hidden cameras is easy. You just use the Network Scanner app and it automatically tells you all the devices that are being used through WiFi. I am definitely going to download this app because I would not want to be watched by anyone. I am so glad this article was posted because it definitely shocked me a little but now I am more aware.

  10. Daibelis Acevedo May 3, 2019 at 11:59 am #

    This is the first that I hear about Airbnb guests finding cameras in their apartments. Aaron Mark writes about a few Airbnb incidents that have occurred where a guests figures out that the owner of the apartment or home has left a camera hooked up to maybe a smoke detector or even a remote control. It’s scary to think that this is actually happening in the world and nothing is ever too safe. Since this is the first, I hear of this, I have stayed in Airbnb apartments before but never even assumed that there could be a camera watching my every move. That may be a little oblivious and naïve of me but now that I think about this and can learn about people that have experienced it, I know next time I do stay at one of these places, I will take in account the pointers shared in this article. One of the most important things to remember as a guest are your rights, “Airbnb’s terms of service dictate that hosts must disclose the presence of cameras to their guests” (Mark). This is one of those things that everyone just assumes the owner would disclose because who would leave a camera and not mention it? It’s extremely upsetting to think there are people that do this and just hope that the guests will not find out. I really enjoyed reading this article and understanding more about scanning a network. It’s interesting how they made it a point to have readers understand that although it seems like a hard task to identify other networks, and to scan a network, it is actually a lot easier than it sounds. The pointers that were given are very helpful especially since summer is coming up and people tend to go away and use Airbnb more than ever. It’s important to remember that for a guest if they do find a camera, action should be taken immediately. It was very disappointing to hear that when the company Airbnb found out that one of the owners had a camera in their home, it was pretty much pushed under the rug and ignored. Of course, this kind of announcement and news can completely plunge the demand for Airbnb and people will be afraid to even book their next vacation at a stranger’s home. I am thankful I was able to read this article and open my mind to the possibilities, this will make me more aware of my surroundings.

  11. Divyaa Sarin May 3, 2019 at 5:09 pm #

    I have never rented out an Airbnb before, and after reading this article I definitely won’t. As technology as advances, there is no such thing as privacy. I find it completely ridiculous how there have been several cases of cameras being found in Airbnb’s. It seems like the company instilled hidden cameras to make sure nothing in the rental would be destroyed or damaged. However, witnessing actions like people naked, is foolish! After reading the title of the article, I immediately thought why would there be a need to detect cameras in an Airbnb? There shouldn’t be any cameras or spyware in a rental room. Hotels and motels don’t have camera’s in guests’ rooms, so why do Airbnb’s? It seems that this company is ignorant when it comes to privacy. However, many people still rent out Airbnb’s whenever they go on vacation or business trips.

    Personally, as I mentioned I never rented out an Airbnb, this is because I never really knew about the credibility of the company. In the past whenever I would go on vacations, I would stay in hotels that have been reviewed by others to ensure my safety. The article mentioned how the Airbnb company has gotten sued a couple times, no one really wants to go through all that litigation and stress. The idea of someone watching my every move while I am in a different place is quite taunting. If this were the case, the company should have warned individuals before staying in the room. However, I think this is still quite unpleasing. We need to be more aware of the places we stay at now these days. Privacy is slowly diminishing, as technology grows. With more technology, we should be aware of the consequences. I know that I don’t want to deal with these privacy issues in the future!

  12. Raymond Wilkinson IV May 3, 2019 at 6:09 pm #

    Another article exposing another incident of invaded privacy of consumers. It seems the list of incidents keeps growing and growing. I personally have rented a room on Airbnb and have been in many rooms rented by others. To see this incident is a little unnerving as I was never told by the host or owner that cameras were in use in the room. But after reading this article it seems whatever I am told means nothing as the guests in this situation were not notified of cameras either. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out cameras were being used in the rooms I stayed in. I feel the owners of the room use an excuse of being able to monitor their property in case of any issues, but this is still a major invasion of privacy. If I had the chance I would love to go back to these rooms and perform the network and port scans to see if cameras are in use. Considering the response Airbnb had to this incident I feel everyone should conduct these scans in any accommodation they stay at for their own privacy. Airbnb is a service that allows people to rent rooms that others own, this incident of hidden cameras being brings a not only a serious privacy concern but also the safety guests as well. With owners having the ability to live stream feed from the room anything could happen. From owners taking guests items to owners going into the rooms while the guests are sleeping. Overall this can not be the only incident of this issue. With advances in technology every day, everything becomes so accessible and easy to use. Guests of Airbnb need tighter safety and privacy rules.

  13. Kevin Metz May 3, 2019 at 7:40 pm #

    This article discusses an instance in which a man found a camera hidden in the smoke detector in his Airbnb. Since he works in IT security, he was able to scan the WiFi network which led to his discovery. When he notified Airbnb, the company did not take it very seriously until the man’s wife posted about the occurrence on Facebook. However, this is not the first-time people have reported finding hidden cameras in their Airbnb. There have been multiple reports of this happening. Airbnb’s terms of services states that renters must disclose the presence of any cameras with their guests. Clearly, this is not always followed. Realistically, how many people know how to scan a WiFi network in search for hidden cameras? The man who did the scan in this article gave various clues that may hint at there being hidden cameras. This includes there being two smoke detectors in one room. I find this to be absolutely disgusting that there are actually people in this world that think its okay to do such a thing. I’ve personally never stayed in an Airbnb, but after reading this article, I’d be hesitant to ever even considering doing so. Those who have reported such instances encourage others to take pictures and post on social media if they come across a hidden camera. Although I think it’s a shame people have to do this, it is better to do so before their privacy is violated. Now that more and more people are being made aware of this, I’m shocked the company is still up and running.

  14. Samantha Begley May 21, 2019 at 9:22 pm #

    Airbnb has been a constant conversation starter for my parents and I, from the talk of privacy to the availability Airbnb offers, older generations have been skeptical on the idea revolving around home sharing. Due to older generations their idea behind “stranger danger” has become a rule of thumb in their minds, the idea behind home sharing would be something my parents would never think of doing unless they felt as though their privacy and safety would never be interfered with. Due to articles like this, Airbnb’s reputation among different generations will continue to sway and it may crucially interfere with their business. As a college student studying business, I was required to look into startups such as Airbnb. I had researched the history of how this small business started along with all of the mistake’s CEO Brian Chesky has had to go through. Not only have they had privacy suspicion, but they have also had to deal with safety hazards such as a renter passing away due to the owner’s carbon monoxide detector not detecting a high level. Though this company has their flaws I feel as though Airbnb is still on the way to make a great way for upcoming generations to travel and have a more affordable way to rent a place to stay. Reading this article, makes me weary that this will never occur. It is a shame to see such a great idea be ruined by peoples urge to invade a stranger’s privacy, I feel as though If the camera is put into an area such as a bedroom (where someone is vulnerable) then this should not be allowed and some sort of enforcement on camera regulation should be set upon in the rules and regulations of Airbnb. But on the other hand, I believe it is okay to have cameras put in a location that is noticeable for renters and disclosed that there will be cameras throughout the rental property. To me if I offered strangers to stay in my home, I would like to make sure they do not ruin things inside my home, and if they do, I have proof that such things occurred. After reading this though I am happy to become more aware of the experiences people are having at some rental properties provided by Airbnb that will help me become more aware of my surroundings when I choose to stay in one of their rental properties.

  15. Nicole Shubaderov August 30, 2019 at 5:04 pm #

    Convenience is the main reason that companies such as Uber and Airbnb are created. In today’s society, we are a very fast-paced people and prefer to use as little of our time, energy and resources as possible to get the best outcome. In many cases, this means finding the cheapest room to stay at or the cheapest fair to transport us from one location to the next. Specifically, Airbnb has become more and more popular over the years due to its average rates being more cost-effective than booking a hotel room. These low rates attract many hopeful vacationers and business people to spending as little money as possible on a place to stay compared to the higher rates found elsewhere. But, the major concern with renting an Airbnb, as expressed in Aaron Mak’s article “How to Scan Your Airbnb for Hidden Cameras,” is security and the trust that customers give to these Airbnb owners.

    Although contracts are made and the Airbnb owners claim to comply with those rules, it is never a given whether or not they are lying or telling the truth. In many cases, such as the examples that Mak explained in his article, people are noticing cameras hiding in discrete areas of the house that are live streaming their every move. This is a breach of the privacy aspect of the contract that each Airbnb owner agreed to follow; which is a great legal and safety concern for everyone. How can individuals trust who they are renting from if the owners of these houses or rooms are not even being completely honest with their customers? This brings up a safety and privacy concern to whether or not the cheaper fare is worth the risk of having these rooms being secretly equipped with cameras without customer knowledge.

    What is even worse than the fact that these owners are secretly doing these things behind our backs, is that the company, Airbnb, did nothing when concerns were brought up the first time. As stated by Andrew Barker in Mak’s article, Airbnb treated the incident like it was a canceled booking rather than an invasion of privacy and a breach of contract. It was only until Barker’s wife explained the specifics of the incident on Facebook did Airbnb comment on the situation and state that they did not fulfill their “high standards” when they answered the complaint initially. What is the point of law if these companies and their employees choose to not follow them? Yes, in some cases they have gotten arrested and charged with breaching this privacy agreement, but what about the many other cases where no one found those cameras and these individuals got away with recording private information about their customers? Airbnb as a company is not upholding the “high standards” that they claim to have and for that reason, trust is being broken between them and their customers. How can individuals keep on relying on a company that treats privacy breaches like ‘canceled bookings’ and then continue to ignore until a mass amount of individuals start finding out about the incident and complain? It is not moral to do that and ethically speaking, they are not conducting business lawfully since they are not upholding their side of the contract to their customers. The customer’s safety should be the main priority of the business but clearly, Airbnb cares more about hiding these incidents from the public and getting as much money as possible from each of the properties, even if they breach safety and privacy rules.

    Yes, Airbnb’s customers can continuously check for cameras every time they stay at an Airbnb, but is that really what people should be doing? They were promised to have everything in the property comply with a set of privacy rules so why should we have to do the work that Airbnb’s security should be conducting within their properties? Why should I have to check for something that should not be in the Airbnb to begin with? Although I appreciate Mak giving us advice on how to find these cameras in the Airbnb properties, what I find more important is a way to hold Airbnb responsible for their employees’ actions. They should uphold the legal aspect of their business and should work on implementing stricter regulations on privacy breaches as well as a way for them to check for these privacy breaches in each property. I want to be able to feel safe in any room or house that I am renting for myself or my family. I do not want to feel like I am being constantly watched or being recorded inappropriately. It is Airbnb’s responsibility to uphold their legal contracts and to make sure that each Airbnb property owner follows the standards and codes that every property owner legally promised to follow.

  16. Shamar Kipp September 5, 2019 at 2:29 pm #

    As the world becomes more innovative and we are able to access more information a accomodations at palm of our hands, we must be more aware of our rights and privacy. Airbnb is an amazing service that has been prevalent for the past few years. It is excellent in terms of finding accomodations for you and whoever you decide to bring on trips away from home without having to book expensive hotel rooms. With services such as Airbnb and Uber and Lyft that are giving businesses like Taxi service and Hotels a run for their money, I believe there is a slight disconnect. There is a little too much freedom being given to not only the corporations but to the hosts and owners of these households. The fact that the owner of a home can hide a camera with a live feed so they can check in at any moment is an invasion of privacy that is that actively agreed upon before rental of the house. I have used Airbnb before and it is quite simple when it comes to agreements and legal terms. You simply book a room with the owner and they provide insight on the house and what works and what doesn’t work. There should be specific legal documents provided before checkout of a household. Each house should have agreements specific to that house. Also, in order to become a person that rents out their house, Airbnb should provide a professional to go through an extensive search of the facility in order make sure the house reaches adequate standards. These are places that people will be residing in and that they paid to use. They should have the right to privacy and be willing to do whatever they like in these facilities.

  17. Jackson Beltrandi September 6, 2019 at 11:53 am #

    The rise of mobile apps that offer services such as ride- sharing, and home-sharing appeal to millennials and can cause major danger. As most of these services are ran by human beings not related to the company, there is little requirements to be able to host on Airbnb. Directly on Airbnb’s website, the first headline on how to become a host is “Airbnb protects hosts.” Under this headline, Airbnb says, “No matter what kind of home or room you have to share, Airbnb makes it simple and secure to host travelers. You’re in full control of your availability, prices, house rules, and how you interact with guests.” After reading this article, it is clear to see that Airbnb is very relaxed on who gets to become a host on their website/app. This means that hosts are allowed to manipulate the rules because the company is very lenient and does not check for privacy concerns on their own services.
    After reading this article I will most likely never use Airbnb to accommodate my travel needs. This relates much to mobile apps that offer ride-sharing, such as Uber and Lyft. The drivers on these services are barely ran background checks on and the companies make it extremely easy for a someone to work for them. Although privacy agreements and contracts are posted on Airbnb’s website, the company rarely checks on their hosts to make sure they are following the user agreement. The case where Andrew Barker found a hidden camera in the smoke detector shines light upon how easy it is for a host to breach the privacy agreement. From not only a legal standpoint, but ethical, how common can it be for someone to hide cameras or other devices which tracks the activity in the house/apartment? Even the company providing these services, does not work hard to prevent these issues concerning their privacy agreement. If Airbnb truly wants the consumer to “live in the world where one day you can feel like you’re home anywhere & not in a home, but truly home, where you belong,” they must provide much better inspections and requirements to be a host.

  18. Mia Ferrante September 6, 2019 at 3:03 pm #

    The complexity of modern-day apps and technology continues to amaze me every day. However, some people fail to realize that certain apps and even new inventions such as Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb were made to make our lives easier, but they can be dangerous. In rare cases such as the one in this article, people can use these new technologies to their advantage and take advantage of their customers, which in turn ruins it for many people. I have never had a problem with Airbnb, I’ve only rented using an Airbnb once, but my experience was good. However, this is not the case for everyone. I do not think Airbnb should be to blame for these cases involving hidden cameras. It clearly states in their agreement that hosts must disclose if there are cameras on the property, so technically is not their problem when hosts decide to break the rules. However, this does not mean Airbnb should have a more difficult process for those who are looking to host. It is not difficult for one to list their property for an Airbnb, you simply just have to sign up and post appealing pictures of the space you are looking to rent and wait for someone to respond. In my opinion, there should be at least a background check or a house inspection to make the process safer and more reliable for people. Apps such as the camera scanner are an example of how modern-day technology is used for the betterment and safety of people. You never know when an app such as a camera scanner could ultimately save your life. Even if you disclose the small bit of personal information and the camera picks it up, it could change your life forever. I was not aware of the hidden camera scam that was going around Airbnb’s but I will be more careful now in signing up for these, and more cautious in these types of setting in disclosing any personal information. After reading this article, I can’t say that that I will never look into an Airbnb again because this is not the case for most of the listing on the website. Airbnb is a convenient way of staying somewhere on vacation or with friends, so I still believe it was and continues to be a great lodging experience but I will use more caution in the future.

  19. Tiffany Lyn September 12, 2019 at 10:25 pm #

    This story doesn’t come as a shock to me because predators have been hiding cameras in public restrooms and dressing rooms for years. I wouldn’t expect an Airbnb to be any different. The concept of a company offering lodging without ownership of any property is worrisome. It’s simply staying in a stranger’s home. I’ve never rented an Airbnb, but I’m not completely opposed to it because hotels can also have privacy issues. As a young girl my mom told me to be aware of cameras that could be hidden in places like women’s fitting rooms because those stories were already being shared on the news. Hidden cameras are not a new scare for women, but it’s important for everyone to be aware of their surroundings especially if they’re traveling with children. Uber is a similar company that provides a transportation service instead of lodging. Tweets saying to avoid a specific driver have gone viral in college towns. Other college aged women have to rely on each other to avoid an unsafe driver because Uber doesn’t take appropriate action when users file complaints. Airbnb seems to be the same way. The host in Ireland wasn’t removed from the site until Nealie Barker made a Facebook post about it. With that being said, I think there are some positives to Airbnb. Owners can make money off their property and renters can travel for cheap. The website is global and easy to navigate. The larger issue is that the law does not fully protect people against invasions of privacy. Filming families and recording private conversations should be taken as a serious offense. There’s a huge difference between security cameras and hidden cameras. In the home where I babysit, there’s a camera facing the front door and a camera facing the back door. The cameras are obviously used for security and they make me feel safe when I’m home with the baby. I imagine a hidden camera would give the exact opposite feeling. A person who’s been recorded in an Airbnb for hours or possibly days without their consent would feel unsafe and violated. Privacy basically doesn’t exist anymore but filming men, women and children in an Airbnb where they can be undressed is where the line needs to be drawn.

  20. Jessica Romero September 20, 2019 at 4:26 pm #

    It is hard to feel safe this day and age with hackers, and the ease of people being able to grab our information everywhere. Whether it’s sharing locations, access to our microphone or camera and it is not a surprise to me that there were people putting hidden cameras in an Airbnb. The fact that Airbnb allows people to have cameras placed in homes that are being rented out is absurd. I understand that no one would want to reserve your home if there was a camera in it, but why do that in the first place? This company is saying that it is okay to have people record you and place a camera in your rental as long as it’s stated in the contract. I think it’s truly an invasion of one’s privacy, if you don’t trust random strangers in your home because you’re afraid of theft/any other concerns, then simply do not put it on Airbnb. According to Airbnb’s policy it states that they allow cameras outdoors and in living rooms and common areas but never in bathrooms or bedrooms. What makes you think that people are going to listen to those rules? Honestly, after reading this article I don’t feel comfortable using Airbnb, as if we don’t have enough privacy issues to working about with all our smart devices and social media. I know that I cover up my camera on all my devices because you could never be too sure. The fact that this man and his family had their trip practically ruined because of someone with a camera is ridiculous. What makes it worse is the company belittling his situation. Security is one thing, but if you’re doing it to seek some pleasure that is punishable by law. There have been multiple lawsuits with Airbnb regarding the use of hidden cameras, as well as a huge discrimination issue. I’ve seen videos with people refusing to give someone their rental because of their ethnicity. There was also another issue in NYC where someone filed a lawsuit against Airbnb that allegedly let random people pose as fake hosts. Overall, Airbnb is extremely problematic and don’t seem to have security and the customers best interest.

  21. Dominic Caraballo September 23, 2019 at 3:10 pm #

    Reading this article about scanning your Airbnb for hidden cameras is not at all shocking. Unfortunately, the society we live in today is one where you must stay vigilant against people who like to break laws relating to privacy. The common misconception is that it is illegal to record someone without their consent. However, this may be true in some cases, the majority of the time, “it is legal to record surveillance video with a hidden camera in your home or public place without the consent of the person you’re recording.” (Legalities of Using Hidden Camera). In addition, Airbnb [requires] hosts to disclose all security cameras and other recording devices in their listings, and [they] prohibit any security cameras and other recording 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 Rules Relating to Recording Devices) Generally, the law gets involved when people place cameras in places of privacy, such as bedrooms and bathrooms and or are not informed that there is a recording device at all.

    It is extremely beneficial that this article includes some apps and techniques to help you detect hidden cameras or recording devices in places you are staying. This gives you the opportunity to invest in things, such as other means of protection. Furthermore, if you are someone who travels frequently, perhaps it would make sense for you to purchase a hidden camera/audio detector as an extra means of precaution for as low as $39.00. (Hidden Camera & Audio Device Detector) Also, if staying in a new place, automatically assume that you are being monitored. First, split up the room into sections and go through each section, one by one, checking to see if any items look out of place. Second, pay attention to areas of vulnerability, for example, bathrooms, bedrooms, hallways, etc. Next, double check that there are no mysterious wires plugged in and all devices work the way they are designed to. Lastly, put yourself in the shoes of someone who wanted to spy on another and ask yourself where you would hide a surveillance device. Often, recording devices are hidden in plain sight and might resemble everyday items like alarm clocks. By using your brains and the necessary techniques to ensure defense, you can feel more comfortable travelling, even when utilizing services such as hotels and Airbnbs, which may make you feel more at risk.

  22. Steven Evans September 26, 2019 at 11:03 am #

    From the home owner’s perspective, I could see why they would want a camera set up inside the house. After all, it is their property and they want to make sure nothing gets stolen or damaged. On the other hand, it is a serious invasion of privacy if it is not disclosed beforehand where the cameras are. As the article states, “Airbnb’s terms of service dictate that hosts must disclose the presence of cameras to their guests.” A solution for the homeowner could be to keep all valuables in a separate location. Everything that could be damaged should be checked before or immediately after the guests leave, so that they could be charged for any damage they may have caused.

    The solution for wary Airbnb guests who are concerned about possible hidden cameras is simpler than one might imagine. Unlike a scenario in a James Bond film, the guest does not need a high-tech scanning device, but rather just an app on their smartphone. This could only be possible in the modern age. Just think that a couple decades ago, nobody would have imagined this solution because there wouldn’t have even been a hidden camera problem in the first place!

    I go on a vacation/road trip every summer with my family and we stay in a different hotel every night. I have slept in many hotels, and I would be very disturbed to find out that any one of them had been recording me. If I stayed in an Airbnb instead of an established hotel chain, I would be sure to check for cameras after reading this article!

  23. Adelina P September 30, 2019 at 7:42 pm #

    Everything has been revolutionized, things went from taxis to Ubers, and now hotels to Airbnbs. However, as things become more technologized, our safety and protection become more endangered. As we often hear about all the Uber scandals, such as the many unfortunate deaths occurring in the car that necessarily didn’t happen in taxis, correlates with hotels and Airbnbs now too. As the article states a man by the name of Andrew Barker was going to his Airbnb for his Europe trip, and he “had found a camera, hidden in a smoke detector.” Thankfully his career is in IT and was able to detect that, on the other hand, what if he was oblivious and did not see it. That has raised many concerns like myself to be extremely cautious in the bookings you do through Airbnb and to always check the room thoroughly to make sure you’re in the clear. It also mentions that when people sign up to let others utilize their space through Airbnb, they must indicate many fields to the guest as well as if there are any cameras. Finding a hidden camera without his consent immediately violated his privacy and their policy, that is not okay. However, there are many different scans that you can take once your there that will inform you if there are any hidden cameras and they are, Angry IP Scanner, NetworkMapper, and Network Scanner. As great as a convenience service Airbnb industry has become, it is also important to always protect yourself and be cautious of everything in your surroundings.
    This article Risks of Airbnb: How to Keep Yourself and Your Data Safe shows many statistics about the reality of Airbnbs. “In 2016 alone nearly 80 million Airbnb stays turned into a problem for travelers. In most cases, people fell victim to scams, unsafe conditions, fake listings or reviews, and discrimination.” That right there should be alarming to every reader that comes across that fact because to me that is terrifying. Furthermore, the idea of staying at someone’s house whether they’re there or not it is still very concerning. The hospitality industry should be staying the way it has always been because Airbnbs are becoming like a place where people backpack too. The new service where travelers have a place to stay often cheaper than hotels is becoming very dangerous, sneaky, and making the guest extremely uncomfortable. There should be experts looking deeper into the ethical standpoint for that.

  24. Mai Le October 4, 2019 at 5:38 pm #

    The rise of Airbnb has brought an entirely fresh outlook on the accommodation and service industries. If I was asked 5 years ago whether I would be willing to rent out a part of my living space or even pay to stay in someone else’s bedroom, I would be quite intimidated by the fact that a stranger would be in my home or me in theirs. And as Airbnb continued to grow and transformed the industry, my opinion, which was likely shared by many as well, has definitely changed as the service has become an integral of my travel and something I would definitely recommend to friends or family if they have a little extra space.

    Until I read this article, I was not aware of the hidden cameras issue since most there has not been any problem with the Airbnbs I have stayed at. I can understand that my Airbnb hosts might have resulted to using hidden cameras in their units because of security and many other concerns. But, the fact that some hosts chose not to disclose their presence according to the platform’s terms of service, which the company has no way to actively enforce, is even more worrisome. Despite this fact, I think it is still worth it to use Airbnb as the benefits far outweigh the costs. The prices of most Airbnb based on their locations are far cheaper for budget travelers, while the units themselves appeal to people who want to stay at a cozy home-like place. Furthermore, privacy and security matters concerning Airbnb places can also happen with some hotels as well. As such, when it comes down to choosing what is best while traveling, a little bit of research and reading reviews go a long way. I also find it very helpful to be cautious and follow the steps listed in the article to detect hidden cameras and know your rights, so I will keep them in mind the next time I stay at an Airbnb or hotel.

  25. Nicholas Hicks October 4, 2019 at 8:10 pm #

    This article is extremely alarming. As someone who Airbnb when traveling with friends the idea has certainly crossed my mind how strange it is to be trusting someone I have never met enough to sleep in their apartment. Despite this strange sentiment I had still never considered the possibility of their being cameras or other recording devices on the premises. I had always assumed that Airbnb would have reputable enough hosts and have some checks against such occurrences but the fact that it has happened in the past makes me want to be much more cautious. Trip goers should be more aptly prepared to look out for these kinds of things when renting from Airbnb and similar serves.
    While this is an important issue which garners attention the article does seem to ignore the fact that this is just as likely to happen at a hotel or motel. Airbnb already suffers from some image association with the strangeness of renting out a private owner’s apartment but in reality Airbnb offers an extremely efficient method of accommodation. Users can rate and review hosts so that others can see that they are trustworthy and responsible, and likewise hosts can review renters for their treatment of their property. Despite the negativity of this article I think that Airbnb is a great option when traveling, just treat it with the same caution as you would stepping into a family owned motel off of the highway.

  26. Corinne Roonan October 19, 2019 at 7:24 pm #

    Here is a funny story: this happened to me. I was on a roadtrip with my best friend to Quebec City in Canada and we used Airbnb to find a small place to stay while exploring the old city. When we got there, we did a scan of the place just to check for any damage or dirtiness so we had proof it was not from us. While searching, we found a very small camera hidden in a vase of fake flowers. I would never have seen the camera, but my best friend pointed it out to me. When I saw this, I immediately contacted the host of the Airbnb. Unfortunately, she only spoke French. From the French classes I took in high school, the only thing I could make out from what she said was “no” and “sorry.” After using google translate, the host agreed to turn them off for our stay. She left, and we put dark tape over the camera so it could not watch us.
    We stayed there for an entire week and had no issues for the remainder of our stay. While most people would have been uncomfortable with that situation (understandably), we were not. Of course the host should have made it clear that cameras would have been in the apartment, but it did not cause a huge issue in my opinion.
    I like Airbnb because I like saving money. I spent ten dollars a night at that Airbnb and it was worth every cent. I traveled an amazing city, enjoyed everything it had to offer, and saved hundred of dollars on lodging. All I had to do was contact the host and bring up the issue with the cameras in order to enjoy my stay.

  27. Rav Gill October 20, 2019 at 7:54 pm #

    Imagine going a cheaper route to find a place to stay and you find out, you should have just spent a little bit more money on a hotel room. Imagine finding a camera in your room that you booked on Airbnb and what would you do. I think I would probably sue them for every penny they have because they violated my privacy. As technology advances, privacy concerns grow, whether it relates to your phone, hidden camera’s, or the government spying on your through your camera on your laptop. The amount of people I have seen with their cameras covered on their phones and laptops rises everyday from my experience as a Geek Squad agent. At work, I see older clients, young clients and middle aged clients tell me that they want to keep the sticker on the camera on there because they worry someone is watching them. Is it delusional to think that or is privacy really being violated as time goes on? This issue came up because a family found a camera in there Airbnb that was “… hidden in a smoke detector, … that was livestreaming a feed of the living room… “ (How to Scan … for …. Cameras). The family was on vacation in Ireland when he decided to check the wifi and found a camera that they were not aware of. The husband was able to connect to the camera and actually view the live feed which I found very scary. I don’t know what I would have done, had I been in the family’s position, but, I know I would be scared to go stay at an Airbnb or even a hotel. According to Airbnb’s website, “If you’re a host and you have any type of security camera or other recording device in or around a listing… we require that you indicate its presence in your House rules” (Airbnb). Airbnb has made it very clear for people who put there houses on their website that they must disclose any cameras, whether they are recording or not that they are present in the house. After that, if someone decides that they do not want a reservation anymore, they have to give them a full refund without any penalties (Airbnb). However, this wasn’t the first time that a guest found a camera hidden in their rental unit, “… a woman found a remote-controlled camera in the living room of an apartment she had been planning to stay in for a month…” (How to Scan … for …. Cameras). Now, if the host is putting these cameras in the rental units because they are worried that the guests may cause damage to the unit, I understand their defense behind it. However, that’s a risk they have to be willing to take if they are going to let people stay at their houses. I know that there are insurance offered so the host will be protected if someone were to cause serious damage or destroy the rental units. I think if Airbnb clarifies that host’s have to make any camera’s presence known in their descriptions or contracts very clearly, they will avoid lawsuits. In Ireland, citizens have the right to privacy and “The right to privacy in Ireland is guaranteed both in our constitution and on a European level 1” (Lawlor Partners), which makes it very clear that citizens can defend their personal rights if something were like this to violate that right. Now this also applies in the sense of the government spying on them, a camera being hacked or a camera being hidden in a hotel room or Airbnb room.

    Cameras in Airbnb rooms is a different story from camera being hacked on people’s laptops by the government to record them or find evidence without going through the proper channels. In the article, they wrote that it is easy to find out if there is a hidden camera in the location by scanning the wifi. People can just look at what pops up on the wifi choices and see what is connected and they can also use old school tactics to find them, as well (How to Scan … for … Cameras).. Apparently, “Consumer-grade hidden cameras come embedded in a variety of different commonplace objects” (How to Scan … for … Cameras) like lamps, usb chargers, bottles, or plants. Cybersecurity professionals are saying that people should look for things that shouldn’t be in the room because they stick out like a “sore thumb.” I think as technology continues to take over a great part of what we do, the government needs to work harder in ensuring that the citizens of their country are protected from hackers and things like this. Any hotel or website can state some policies, but they cannot control what happens in there locations. In the article it says that, “If you find a camera, take pictures of it,” says Tentler. “Make noise, post pictures of the thing on the internet, on Twitter” (How to Scan … for … Cameras) and I think that is a reasonable thing to do. However, I think people need to be careful because if they do not approach the company directly first, they may be the ones facing lawsuits for damaged reputations. Another commenter wrote that “If you cannot have the slightest bit of trust or decency to inform the customers then you should not be renting out your home or vehicle” (Commenter) and I agree with him. There has to be a good reason you are putting your home up for people to stay in and they have to compromise. Unfortunately, people need to become more vigilant because society is moving forward and it is causing some people to violate the rights of citizens in Europe and the United States. At the end of the day, it does become a ethical and moral question, because the hosts have to be able to give a justified reason for these cameras. Some people are just sick and some people are just cautious. I think the really good thing about this article was that it told you ways on how to look for cameras. Overall, people need to be careful and not be to trusting of today’s society because the things we least expect are happening.

    https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/887/what-are-airbnbs-rules-about-security-cameras-and-other-recording-devices-in-listings
    https://lawlorpartners.ie/case-for-compensation/the-right-to-privacy/
    https://slate.com/technology/2019/04/how-to-scan-airbnb-hidden-camera

  28. Halli Schwartz October 24, 2019 at 1:29 pm #

    Airbnb is a business that represents the future of travel. I have used Airbnb many a time, and have found the homes I have stayed at somewhat better than staying at a hotel, due to many factors such as price and location. However, after reading this article, I will be taking precautions the next time I rent an Airbnb property. The article discusses a man named Andrew Barker who recently discovered hidden cameras in an Airbnb property that he stayed at in Ireland. He discovered this camera due to a camera scanning application that he had on his phone. There has been an uproar surrounding Barker’s discovery, as people who believed that Airbnb properties were safe and secure are now afraid of staying at these properties as the risk of illegal surveillance is a substantial one. However, the article’s suggested apps can ease the minds of travelers. By scanning Airbnbs for cameras, a solution can be found to this scary dilemma. This whole article reminded me of how prevalent surveillance has become nowadays. In offices, employers are using surveillance to an extreme extent, with some businesses going so far as to place microchips in their workers fingers to track their every move. With surveillance almost widely accepted at this point, it is not surprising to me that surveillance was found in this Airbnb. I am sure that this is not the only property that has a camera of this sort. The owners of this property may have meant no harm with these cameras, hoping to keep their property safe. However, in the climate of today’s society, this is not acceptable. There is a level of privacy that was breached by the owners of this Airbnb, and they should be somehow punished for not revealing this camera in the first place. Airbnb must search properties that will be listed on their application more carefully. If they do not do so, they are just acting as an assistant in these breaches of privacy. This article is frightening, but also unfortunately expected. Hopefully, this surveillance issue will be eradicated in the future.

  29. Victoria Balka October 24, 2019 at 9:00 pm #

    When people book a place from Airbnb, they expect to find a cheaper or better alternative then booking a hotel room for their trip. When people rent an Airbnb, they do not think that they will have to worry about being watched by hidden cameras in their rental unit. However, there has been many cases of people finding hidden cameras in their Airbnb rentals which raises the question of how do I find out if there is a hidden camera in the place I am renting. The article explained two main ways one can find out if there is hidden cameras in the rental. One way you can check is to see if there are cameras connected to the network by downloading an app that can perform scans of the internet and then you can look at the codes of what is connected to that network. If you see the word camera or a code that can be related to video streaming, it is likely that there is a hidden camera in the rental. Another way is to look around the room and see if there is anything that seems out of place, seems fake, or shines back when a light is shined on it like a lens would.
    I find the fact that people are finding hidden cameras in places that they rent for a nice vacation or trip is extremely disturbing. While reading this article about how to find hidden cameras and who to report it to if one is found was extremely helpful but, there are many people renting places on Airbnb who have not read this article and go into their rental assuming that there is nothing hidden. It is extremely wrong for people to be renting their places to other people and then setting up cameras to watch what they do while they stay in your place. This massive invasion of privacy likely has affected many people who will never know that they were spied on. Airbnb should create policies and have professionals check out their rental units to make sure that there are no hidden cameras before allowing them to be rented from their website. Next time I stay at a rental from Airbnb or another service I will definitely use these tips to make sure I am not being watched over a hidden camera.

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