Woman Finds Hidden Camera In Her Airbnb Rental

Photo: Courtesy of Airbnb.
Being watched by a stranger is a fear that many of us share. And that's precisely what one German woman experienced during her vacation to California, when she found a hidden camera in her Airbnb rental home. Edith Schumacher, who says that she likes to sleep in the nude, was horrified when her partner found the hidden camera on the third day of their stay back in December 2013. According to The Recorder, the camera was hidden under a pile of candles. Schumacher is now suing the couple that put their home on Airbnb for invasion of privacy and emotional distress. She's also suing Airbnb for negligence, arguing that the company should have performed background checks on its hosts.

A statement on Airbnb's current website reads:
"We expect hosts to respect their guests’ privacy. Although we can’t provide you with specific legal advice, the use of surveillance equipment may violate the law in your jurisdiction." The company adds: "Notify your guests about any security cameras or other surveillance devices at or around your listing and get consent where required."
This isn't the first time Airbnb has come under fire for hidden cameras in rentals. Back in January of this year, a similar incident happened in Canada. Fusion points out that at that time, Airbnb said that it had a "zero tolerance" policy for hidden cameras — and that anyone doing illegal, undisclosed surveillance wouldn't be allowed to host their homes again. But according to Schumacher's attorney, that "zero tolerance" policy was completely ignored when Schumacher reported the hidden camera incident to Airbnb. Her attorneys allege that the company continued to allow the couple who owned the home — identified as Fariah Hassim and Jamil Jiva — to rent out their space on Airbnb. A spokesman for Airbnb wouldn't speak on current litigation, but told Mashable, “Airbnb takes privacy issues extremely seriously. All hosts must certify that they comply with all applicable laws in their locations and are of course expected to respect the privacy of their guests." The company spokesman added that Airbnb "warns hosts to fully disclose whether there are security cameras or other surveillance equipment at or around the listing and to get consent where required."

The reality is that Airbnb did not start warning its hosts not to secretly film guests until November 2014, according to The Observer. That's actually a full year after Schumacher's incident, which happened in December 2013.
Schumacher's attorneys wrote in the complaint that she is "deeply humiliated and angry about the fact that the camera was and/or could have been used to spy upon her while she was completely undressed and walking around within the property." She's also worried that "images of her exist in electronic form and could make their way onto the internet or some other medium.” It's not out of left field for an Airbnb host to choose to ensure a property's security, especially after the numerous stories about guests destroying homes. That said, a concealed camera of this nature seems to be an entirely different matter.

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