Airbnb warns hosts who use indoor security cameras they may face eviction

No more creepy snooping? Be my guest

Airbnb guests will be delighted to know that their short-term rentals don't contain indoor security cameras – once a change to the platform's community policy takes effect at the end of April.

Airbnb on Monday posted news of its plan to ban the use of indoor security cameras in its listings. The use of indoor security cameras – in common areas only – was previously allowed.

"Our goal was to create new, clear rules that provide our community with greater clarity about what to expect on Airbnb," Juniper Downs, head of community policy and partnerships for the short-term rental disrupter, wrote in the 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."

While Airbnb's legalese means indoor cameras are no longer allowed (they were never permitted in private spaces like bedrooms and bathrooms), the new policy still allows the devices to be installed outdoors – provided they aren't aimed indoors, or placed in outdoor areas such as an outdoor shower or sauna where guests can reasonably expect privacy.

The policy still permits use of smart home devices, doorbell cameras, and decibel monitors designed to catch guests who violate noise rules. All such devices must, however, be reported and mentioned in Airbnb listings – the new policy includes instructions on how hosts can do so.

Airbnb's old policy on the use of cameras and recording devices was rather vague – stating only that concealed cameras and those located in private spaces weren't allowed, and that permitted cameras must be clearly visible.

The change will likely be good news to those who were worried about privacy in their Airbnb short-stay. We've reported on previous incidents involving hidden cameras in Airbnb rentals – one of which landed a host in prison. Banning indoor cameras is sure to add some peace of mind.

That said, the cameras that got hosts into trouble were hidden – which Airbnb noted in the updated policy has always been against its terms. Someone willing to ignore the rules and respect for guest privacy is unlikely to change their ways based on the shift in policy.

Guests who believe they've spotted a camera violating the updated policy after April 30, when it goes into effect, should report it to Airbnb. Hosts violating the rule will be investigated, Airbnb promised, and could have their account removed. ®

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