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Airbnb Recommends Surveillance Devices

Airbnb Recommends Surveillance Devices
Jennifer Billock

Want to know more about Airbnb’s new surveillance policy, or anything else? Check out the FlyerTalk forum page on non-hotel lodging services like Airbnb and VRBO.

In an effort to stop Airbnb horror stories from hosts—like people using the rentals to create adult films or to have wild parties, or guests leaving the units completely trashed—the company has officially begun to suggest surveillance equipment for use in rentals. (They’re calling it “party protection” equipment, though.)

“We want to help you protect your space, maintain the privacy of your guests, and preserve your relationship with neighbors,” the company’s website says. “This means helping you detect issues in real-time.”

And although they haven’t manufactured, endorsed, or branded any of the devices themselves, they are suggesting three different options backed by customer reviews: Minut, NoiseAware, and Roomonitor.

Is This Going Too Far?

Some privacy advocates say that this type of surveillance—even though they don’t record audio or video—is setting a bad precedent.

“File this under ‘that’s why we can’t have nice things,’” cyber-guru Ian Thornton-Trump told Forbes. “Controlling people’s behavior through surveillance reminds me of the panopticon approach to prisons.”

Airbnb actively suggesting certain devices may encourage rental owners to put in their own devices—that may or may not have the same privacy features as the three pushed by Airbnb. The suggested devices, though, are part of a push from the company to ward off badly behaving guests.

“Our policies have been updated to ban ‘party houses’ and ‘open invite’ events and to increase enforcement against reckless behavior and nuisance from bad actors,” Airbnb said in a release. “We will have dozens of specially trained agents supporting this enforcement and handling rapid response in our online and telephone channels for urgent neighborhood issues.”

Is it Just a Cost of Doing Business?

As we all know, one bad apple can ruin it for the rest of us—and with Airbnb, there’s an especially large opportunity for that to happen.

“Perhaps we have detected one of the cracks in the Airbnb business model,” Thornton-Trump told Forbes. “The problem is that the few wreck it for the many. When you rent space there is risk—you really can’t escape it. Either choose your guests wisely or run it as a business with requisite licenses and insurance. There are reasons why some things are regulated and will be for the foreseeable future.”

As for Airbnb, the company has specific rules for using the devices: they have to be in plain view, the renter has to know it’s there, and nothing can be installed in a bedroom or bathroom.

View Comments (10)

10 Comments

  1. MileageAddict

    MileageAddict

    March 7, 2020 at 9:13 am

    I would never book a stay that had any sort of interior suveillance. If I rented a place and found a camera, I would cover it with something and leave a negative review to warn others.

  2. sfcharles1

    March 8, 2020 at 4:26 am

    Well, they just totally lost my business.

    Absolutely creepy, I will never rent from AirBnB again.

    Buy insurance, perform a background check on your clients, or don’t rent it out.

    But sticking cameras around do you can watch people walking around is just perverted and invasive.

    Can it possibly be legal to do that sort of thing?

  3. clarkef

    March 9, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    The devices such as Minut detect things like the noise level and how often the door is open. It doesn’t record audio or video. That being said, I would expect that to be disclosed before I rented.

  4. eric_o

    March 10, 2020 at 6:30 am

    After I read the article, I knew who the author was. I dont know why flyertalk publishes her garbage. Is this what they’re teaching in Journalism 101 now? Leave out just enough details to make your story sound like a crisis even though it isn’t. The three products AirBnb is recommending are noise level monitors, not surveillance camera systems. They provide the user a graphical noise report.

  5. PaulMSN

    March 11, 2020 at 4:19 am

    As the article points out, recommending surveillance at all might encourage owners to install more invasive devices. Your interpretation of the article is overwrought and the writing is fine.

  6. MitchR

    March 11, 2020 at 5:20 am

    Installing video in an area where there is an expectation of privacy is illegal in many states. Waiting to see how this pans out.

  7. Disneymkvii

    March 11, 2020 at 8:33 am

    A co-worker has a rental property that has been trashed more than once. He finally put up cameras outside so he could see how many people were coming in. It’s been able to stop a few wild parties before they got out of control. He foolishly thought Airbnb would help him when his place got wrecked and looted after one party, but amazingly the renters didn’t have money and airbnb didn’t do jack for him. I’m OK with the cameras.

  8. IBobi

    IBobi

    March 11, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    CREEPS.

  9. IBobi

    IBobi

    March 11, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    You know who else takes a chance that their rooms will be trashed by guests? HOTELS. And you know how many cameras are watching who enters and leave a hotel room? NONE.

    You charge money, you take your chances. NO CAMERAS.

  10. Ziggo

    March 13, 2020 at 5:31 am

    “And you know how many cameras are watching who enters and leave a hotel room? NONE”

    What? Every hotel I’ve stayed at in the last 20 years has had cameras monitoring the hallways.

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