In our first article on how to stay safe when staying in an Airbnb, we discussed several tips and insights on how to keep your online presence secure. In this article, we will discuss how to stay safe and secure from hidden cameras. Although we will touch on only online security insights, we recommend that you familiarize your self with other types of safety tips as well when staying at an Airbnb.
Airbnb – smile you are on candid camera
Even the best-laid plans
No matter how much homework you did in advance, there are always extenuating circumstances that can ruin any vacation. According to Expedia, the most common issues Airbnb guests experience include smells, cleanliness, unsafe location and neighborhoods, amenities that do not work, pollutants like garbage, bug infestations, hostile hosts, undisclosed roommates, online theft, as well as hidden cameras in the bedroom, living area or bathrooms.
Previously, in a recent article by the security experts at Adaware, we discussed how to find a hidden camera in your hotel room. In the article, we will expand on that article and give you several more tips to help prevent you from being filmed without your consent. We recommend that you review the previous article along with this one.
Airbnb introduced regulations
In most countries, it is illegal to film someone surreptitiously, and Airbnb has recently introduced a series of regulations regarding the use of surveillance devices.
According to Airbnb: “We require hosts to disclose all surveillance devices in their listings, and we prohibit any surveillance devices that are in or that observe the interior of certain private spaces (such as bedrooms and washrooms) regardless of whether they’ve been disclosed.” (See annex 1 below – Airbnb’s rules about electronic surveillance devices in listings).
Hidden cameras can be masterly disguised as smoke detectors, light bulbs, alarm clocks, or even hidden in air conditioning vents.
The security experts from Adaware recommend that you do a sweep of your room and look for some of the tell-tale signs of hidden cameras:
- Wires – In unexpected places or wires that don’t seem to go anywhere While many cameras are wireless, unexplained wiring could lead to a hidden camera.
- The shine of camera lenses – A camera designed to be stealthy won’t have any visible signs like this, but cameras not designed to be hidden often do, and if the person who placed the camera wasn’t careful, this could be an obvious giveaway.
- Some types of hidden cameras take advantage of this by hiding in innocuous objects with a small hole for the camera.
- Objects that are strangely placed – Since a camera can be hidden in virtually anything, look for items that are out of the ordinary. If you have been in the listing for a while looking for anything that’s new or has been moved
- Field of view – Look for items that will give the perpetrator the best field of view.
- If you find a hidden camera, report it to the Airbnb client support department.
Annex 1) What are Airbnb’s rules about electronic surveillance devices in listings?
Our Standards & Expectations require that all members of the Airbnb community respect each other’s privacy. More specifically, we require hosts to disclose all surveillance devices in their listings, and we prohibit any surveillance devices that are in or that observe the interior of certain private spaces (such as bedrooms and washrooms) regardless of whether they’ve been disclosed.
Rules for hosts
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.
Rules for guests
If you’re a guest, our Standards & Expectations require that you not spy on other people, or otherwise violate others’ privacy. Our policy prohibits the use of a surveillance device by a guest to monitor a host or any third party present in the listing without the consent of that person. We encourage you to discuss the use of surveillance devices using Airbnb’s messaging feature.
Violating this policy may result in your suspension or removal from the Airbnb community. In addition, you should ensure that your use of surveillance equipment is consistent with applicable local laws and regulations.
What’s considered a surveillance device
Any mechanism that can be used to capture or transmit audio, video, or still images is considered a surveillance device. This includes but is not limited to things like Wi-Fi cameras (e.g., Nest Cam or Dropcam), nanny cameras, web cameras in computer monitors, baby monitors, mounted or installed surveillance systems, decibel and device monitors, and smartphones with video and/or audio recording capabilities.
A vacation should always a time to remember, and with a little precaution, and being alert to any potential dangers either online or with hidden cameras, your travels you will return with nothing but fun memories.
The Adaware security wishes each and everyone pleasant holiday travels.