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Airbnb bans use of security cameras inside its rental properties

The company said it was introducing stricter rules on cameras outside properties as well

Dan Gooding
Tuesday 12 March 2024 16:58 GMT
Family finds eight hidden cameras in Airbnb villa

Airbnb has announced that it is banning hosts from using security cameras inside their listings.

Monday’s announcement sought to “simplify” policies, the company said, after it previously allowed cameras in communal areas, including kitchens, hallways and living rooms.

Now, owners will have to remove them and make sure they are complying with updated rules on cameras and noise detectors on the outside of their property.

“The update to this policy simplifies our approach and makes clear that security cameras are not allowed inside listings, regardless of their location, purpose or prior disclosure,” Airbnb’s blog post said.

Read more: How to spot a hidden camera in your Airbnb

The move comes after several reports of guests finding “hidden” cameras in their Airbnbs, including a man in Wales who found a webcam between sofa cushions last year.

Previously, cameras could be present in communal areas if the host declared them on the listing.

The company said that, as most listings do not have this declaration currently, only a small percentage on the platform would be affected.

“Our goal was to create new, clear rules that provide our community with greater clarity about what to expect on Airbnb,” Airbnb’s Head of Community Policy and Partnerships, Juniper Downs said in the blog post.

“These changes were made in consultation with our guests, hosts and privacy experts, and we’ll continue to seek feedback to help ensure our policies work for our global community.”

Under the new guidelines, doorbell cameras and decibel monitors will still be permitted, along with outdoor security cameras, as long as hosts list these clearly. Airbnb said these help hosts to get ahead of any potential issues, such as unauthorised parties.

Cameras will be banned from pointing to the interior of the property, as well as areas where guests would expect more privacy, such as an outdoor shower or hot tub.

The campaign group Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) has been calling for the change since 2022.

“No one should have to worry about being recorded in a rental, whether the bedroom, the living room, or a hall,” S.T.O.P. executive director Albert Fox Cahn said in a press release. “Getting rid of these cameras is a clear win for privacy and safety, and we know that these recording devices are ripe for abuse.

“When people find that they’re being watched where they live, it’s not just creepy, it’s a profound violation. This is a huge win for those of us who have fought to ensure that renters don’t have to worry about being watched every moment they’re awake. We’re grateful that Airbnb listened to those of us who told them that a change was needed.”

The new rules will come into effect on 1 April, which the company says should give hosts enough time to comply.

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