Hidden cameras in your hotel room or Airbnb: What travellers need to know

2 weeks ago 56

Updated

Apr 01, 2024, 12:00 PM

Published

Apr 01, 2024, 12:00 PM

UNITED STATES – In March, Airbnb announced that, starting April 30, the home rental platform would ban the use of surveillance cameras in its rentals.

The news was welcomed by those concerned about privacy.

“Cameras are both creepy and a threat,” said Mr Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, which has campaigned for a ban on cameras in Airbnbs since 2022.

“People are terrified about having their intimate moments photographed without their consent and having owners able to monitor their activities within a rental.”

For many travellers, Airbnb’s new policy has prompted some fundamental questions: What were the cameras doing there in the first place? And what are travellers’ rights when it comes to privacy in hotels and rental homes?

Public use of cameras

Cameras, of course, are everywhere in public life, from the self-checkout kiosks at big-box retailers to airport terminals.

Like other businesses, hotels and vacation rentals use surveillance cameras for two reasons, said Professor Michael McCall, a Hilton Hotels Fellow in the School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University: to protect their customers and their property.

A traveller might feel more secure getting to a hotel room or rental apartment with a security camera in a hallway, for example. And a hotel or host might use cameras to monitor property damage or theft, although the question of whether surveillance is effective in preventing crime is a long-standing debate between privacy and safety advocates.

“There’s a balance between ‘How do I protect my stuff’ and, at the same ...

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