Airbnb hidden camera: a family finds a live camera from their rental
After arriving at their Airbnb in Cork, Ireland, a New Zealand family made a disturbing discovery: a hidden camera, broadcast live from the living room.
Nealie and Andrew Barker, from Auckland, were in the middle of a 14-month trip through Europe when they arrived at the Airbnb property with their four children and niece.
After the family unpacked, Andrew Barker, who works in computer security, scanned the home’s Wi-Fi network.
The scan uncovered a camera, then a live feed. From the angle of the video, the family found the camera, hidden in what appeared to be a smoke or carbon monoxide detector.
“It was such a shock. It was just a really awful feeling,” Nealie Barker told CNN.
She called Airbnb to report the camera. “They had no advice for us over the phone,” she said. “The girl just said if you cancel within 14 days you won’t get your money back.”
Then Andrew Barker called the owner of the property. Faced with the discovery of the family, said Nealie Barker, the host hung up. He later called back, insisting that the camera in the living room was the only one in the house.
“We didn’t feel relieved by that,” she said, adding that the host declined to confirm whether he was recording the live stream or capturing audio.
The family moved to a nearby hotel and called Airbnb the next day. “They still didn’t seem to grasp the seriousness of the problem. They were treating it like a canceled booking,” Nealie Barker said. Ultimately, Airbnb’s trust and safety team promised to investigate and temporarily suspended the listing.
According to Nealie Barker, Airbnb has not contacted the family again. After she contacted them two weeks later, the company told her the host had been “exonerated” and the listing had been reinstated.
It was only after publishing an article about the incident on Facebook and local New Zealand news stations reported her experience that the host had been permanently banned, she said.
In a statement, Airbnb told CNN, “The safety and privacy of our community – both online and offline – is our priority. Airbnb policies strictly prohibit hidden cameras in listings, and we take reports of violations very seriously. We have permanently removed this bad actor from our platform.
“Our initial handling of this incident fell short of the high standards we set for ourselves, and we have apologized to the family and fully refunded their stay. There have been over half a billion guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are incredibly rare.
Aoife Mullen, communications manager for the Irish Data Protection Commission, told CNN the commission was “aware of the issue”, adding, “we will ask Airbnb for further information on this”.
The Barker family is currently in Budapest, where Nealie Barker said: “We are currently staying in an Airbnb.
“We’ve become much more cautious now,” she said, advising other travelers to learn how to scan networks for hidden cameras. “We think people need to realize that the travel market is largely unregulated and if you’re not ok with being filmed, you need to take all the steps properly.”