Espionage continues to wreak havoc on Airbnb, with hosts hiding cameras in their listings to film tenants without their knowledge. An unhealthy voyeurism that escapes the control of the platform and the sanctions.
Online private accommodation rental sites, such as Aibnb, are very practical, but can sometimes lead to very unpleasant surprises. Unscrupulous owner, accommodation not in accordance with the photos, faulty equipment… But things can go much further! It is not uncommon for tenants, especially women, to find cameras placed in the bedroom or bathroom, even though this is strictly prohibited by the platform and the law… There is no official figure, the testimonies of traumatized travelers are unfortunately legion. The journalists of Release conducted their investigation into this despicable practice which violates people’s privacy and is not sufficiently regulated by law.
Hidden cameras in Airbnb rentals: a common yet illegal practice
Voyeurs are not lacking in imagination to hide their cameras, helped by manufacturers who are eager to sell them their spy cameras. They can be found in all forms, hidden in innocuous everyday objects: a lamp, an alarm clock, a pen, a clock, a charger… As a result, they are so discreet that they become almost invisible. Some cameras even retransmit the images to a mobile application (that of the voyeur) in real time. And even tiny, they are usually equipped with a video recorder, a microphone, a micro SD card, night vision, even motion detection. The horror !
Among the testimonies collected by Liberation, we find that of a young woman who, two years ago, spent a night with her husband in accommodation located in a small town in the Allier. Six months later, she had the unpleasant surprise of being summoned to the gendarmerie, who told her that the individual who rented them the accommodation had hidden several cameras there. The gendarmes then invited her to join the other complaints…”The gendarmes identified us on several videos. I cried when I saw myself naked coming out of the shower“, she testifies. Cases of this type are extremely numerous. This is the case of that of a retiree who was sentenced in April 2018 to a two-month suspended prison sentence for having filmed young female students in their shower. Korean, Russian and Colombian, accommodated within the framework of the Erasmus program, in her apartment in the XIVe Parisian district.
There are no official figures in France, the latest data dating back to 2017, with 857 such offenses recorded during the year alone. Some voyeurs go even further by putting the videos taken online and, once hosted on servers located in foreign countries, are difficult to reach for French justice. Some children may be filmed without their knowledge to feed child pornography sites. Unfortunately, most people sentenced in France escape prison terms. They incur two years’ imprisonment and a fine of 60,000 euros according to article 226-2-1 of the Penal Code, in the context where the person was filmed naked. For its part, Airbnb allows disconnected devices “provided they are extinguished and disclosed in advance to travellers”can we read in Airbnb’s Terms and Conditions. Only cameras filming a public common area or entrance are allowed. Surveillance devices in private rooms (bedroom, bathroom, living room, common areas) are strictly prohibited. But that obviously does not prevent the voyeurs from cracking down.