A father has spoken of his horror at finding two cameras inside an Airbnb he had rented with his family.
Jeffrey Bigham, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University, found two small white cameras dotted around the apartment.
However, he was stunned when the roomsharing service said he had ‘consented’ to it and was on the side of the homeowner when he complained.
Jeffrey Bigham said he had not given consent to being filmed in the property In a blog post, Mr Bigham said the property description for the home told of cameras being positioned ‘near the entrance.’
However, when he got to the house for the New Year’s Eve getaway he found two devices – one in the lounge and one facing the bathroom door.
He immediately unplugged them and complained to Airbnb, saying he had never given his consent to being filmed at the property in Seattle, USA. More than 700 dogs found ‘matted and coated in faeces’ in ‘extreme puppy mill case’ He was left stunned when the firm sided with the owner, saying they had been disclosed because a photograph showed one of them in the lounge.
Mr Bigham posted online: ‘When my family and I stayed in an Airbnb this past winter break, we discovered this camera and another about a day into our stay. ‘I was shocked, and immediately unplugged them. ‘I don’t think we did anything particularly weird in front of that camera, but it’s very likely that my two-year-old ran in front of this camera naked (the field of view of the camera was close to the exit of the bathroom). ‘If you find a truly hidden camera in your bedroom or bathroom, Airbnb will support you. If you find an undisclosed camera in the private living room, Airbnb will not support you.’
Airbnb originally said he had consented to the cameras because one could be seen (circled) in a promotional photograph Mr Bigham later updated his blog to say that after a lengthy complaints process, he had finally been given a refund. Airbnb also removed the host from their community.
The professor said he appreciated that hosts do have homes that get trashed. At least 23 dead after Alabama tornado leaves trail of destruction But he added: ‘It’s hard to be a guest and a host and wifi cameras are fuel on the fire. ‘All of us need to think carefully about how we will live in an increasingly surveilled world. Just because it’s so easy to record everything now doesn’t mean we should.’
An Airbnb spokesperson told FastCompany: ‘Our community’s privacy and safety is our priority, and our original handling of this incident did not meet the high standards we set for ourselves. ‘We have apologized to Mr. Bigham and fully refunded him for his stay.
We require hosts to clearly disclose any security cameras in writing on their listings and we have strict standards governing surveillance devices in listings. ‘This host has been removed from our community.’