Airbnb guests repeatedly discover hidden cameras in the homes they rent


#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/12/10/porkys-lvii.html


#2

People who want to make a quick buck by letting rooms and apartments without registering sometimes do shitty things. Not terribly surprised.


#3

That’s why I always travel with my chroma key sleepwear.

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#4

[Techbro CEO voice] Obviously the answer to this problem is less regulation and oversight from the government, and let the free market work it out.


#5

This is part of why things like AirBNB are problematic, as they do skirt all those pesky regulations and stuff for letting people sleep in your property for pay. And since those regulations protect both sides, you get paranoid owners who install cameras because they don’t trust their guests, who figure a camera replaces actual insurance. And these same home owners are also not well educated on what is legal and what is not.

It might be my age, but I am not a big fan of using services like this. I actually like having regulatory agencies making sure everything is on the up and up.


#6

you get potentially sexual predator owners who install cameras because they want to see their guests naked

There. Fixed for you.


#7

And sometimes people renting rooms and apartments do shitty things. Unless the renter is onsite to inspect while they’re checking out, that’s a problem.

If I was renting I might like a “black box” too. If everything checks out fine, erase the video unseen. If the television is missing and there are holes in the wall, well…


#8

Well, that was already a given. I wanted to point out even the seemingly innocuous reasons can be problematic.


#9

You can’t have a sharing economy without trust. Trust that your guest will behave and trust that your host is not a pervert.

The surveillance and firearms industry thrive on lack of trust.


#10

The surveillance and firearms industry thrive on lack of trust.

Surveillance maybe, but the firearms industry thrives on paranoia.


#11

In the bedroom?


#12

Nope, nor should it be connected to the web.

I’ve never used AirBnB, so how do they handle damage/theft problems? Actually I’m not clear on how the towels and sheets get changed when there are serial guests and no one on site.


#13

The rules state that any cameras must be disclosed in the listings before the listings are approved. They are not allowed to be in the bedrooms or bathrooms. There is some problem with enforcement. Airbnb will typically refund the “guest” and suspend the “host” account if the camera is discovered and Airbnb is notified right away. The problems are twofold. First is discovering hidden and unlisted cameras. Second is that guests have a rational concern about retaliation from the host. It should go without saying that you should never disclose your own address to the host, but many guests contact the host before renting and give that personal information as a sign of goodwill. This is not a good idea.

https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/887/what-are-airbnb-s-rules-about-electronic-surveillance-devices-in-listings

ETA: Ultimately the problem is that facilitate this convenient market without regulation, a certain amount of trust is necessary. Regulation wouldn’t inconvenience Airbnb’s clients, but it would inconvenience Airbnb, and so they lobby against it. Basically, as with Uber and hired drivers, they want to dominate the hospitality industry with as little investment as possible while maximizing their cut. In and of itself that’s a rational business decision, but their ability to influence public policy toward them is a classic example of regulatory capture by a disruptive enterprise. This is why lobbying is evil.


#14

Every time I see this story, or the “cameras in the Starbucks bathroom” story, or the “you won’t believe what we found in the changing rooms at the local Hot Topic” story, I can’t believe it’s not more common.

And, of course, maybe it is. That’s the whole point of incredibly cheap, incredibly effective consumer-ready surveillance gear: that you don’t notice it.

I’m a good guy… in practice. In my heart, I’m a lech and a thief and a liar and a blackmailer and and a fraudster and a fighter and a bully and worse. In other words, I’m pretty normal, mostly mastering my evil impulses, or at least mostly allowing my fear of detection and punishment to keep them in check.* But if my particular evil itches could be scratched as effectively and easily and cheaply and undetectably as today’s off-the-shelf surveillance equipment could make happen? Yeah, I don’t know. And I think the voyeuristic impulse, if that’s even the right word, is pretty common.

*If I’m wrong about this and other people aren’t so tempted to do wrong, please let me know, because in that case I want a medal and a parade!


#15

So we start to get to the bottom of why the “sharing economy” is so cheaper than the evil taxi companies and hotels: theses businesses already price their goods and services based on the losses they will eventually endure while running. They pay a lot of insurance, reserve cash for fleet renewal, labour rights, etc.

AirBnB hosts might overlook that. Same for Uber/Lyft drivers. Most of them know they will have to paint their homes at a higher frequency, spend more on maintenance and vehicle replacement. And that’s fine: the sharing economy can be a great way for you to make some quick cash if you need. But once you start treating that as a real/regular business, all those costs add up.


#16

Before and after pictures.
If someone is so cheapskate that they are not either checking in person or paying someone to clean up after lets (and photograph any damage) then to my mind they’ve already failed to make reasonable provision.


#17

i think lack of trust is step one of paranoia


#18

I think that the guests are under the impression they are “sharing” money for accommodation, not their naked bodies.


#19

Depends on the location. Some hosts change towels and sheets and provide breakfast (like a B&B), but I’ve used it on multiple trips, renting everything from a single room to a loft to an entire cabin, and in my experience, most hosts are very hands-off. You get a room or house for a few days, and when you leave, you’re expected to have not damaged anything. Any damage can be fined through airbnb. Most places I’ve stayed, you never even meet your renters and are just told “pick up the key in the hidden box, door code is 5555” or whatever.


#20

I had the opposite problem while staying at an AirBnB in August. The hostess’ brother (>70 years old) was in the kitchen naked one time, and we could see him from our part of the house.

Eeeeewwww!!!