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How Airbnb is changing its rules on cameras from May 2024

The Local Italy
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How Airbnb is changing its rules on cameras from May 2024
Airbnb is updating its rules for hosts on cameras. Photo by Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP.

Airbnb is tightening up its rules on security cameras inside properties listed on its website in a move intended to give guests more privacy.

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People who advertise short-term lets on Airbnb will soon be required to remove all indoor cameras from their listings under a company-wide rule change designed to prioritise guests' privacy, the company announced in a recent blogpost.

Until now, Airbnb has allowed security cameras in common spaces such as hallways and living rooms, "as long as they were disclosed on the listing page before booking, clearly visible and were not located in spaces like sleeping areas and bathrooms," the company noted in its statement.

"The update to this policy simplifies our approach and makes clear that security cameras are not allowed inside listings, regardless of their location, purpose or prior disclosure."

The rule change is set to come into effect on April 30th, to give hosts time to update their properties and listings in compliance with the new policy.

Hosts will still be able to use outdoor surveillance cameras in gardens and driveways, provided they disclose the presence and location of each one, and they do not face in to film inside the property. 

The change follows years of reports of guests finding secret cameras in their Airbnbs in various countries. In 2019, The Atlantic published an article titled 'Airbnb Has a Hidden-Camera Problem'.

Last summer, a Texas couple brought a $75,000 lawsuit against an Airbnb host after they discovered multiple hidden cameras disguised as smoke detectors in the defendant's bedroom and bathroom.

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In the company's blogpost, Airbnb spokesperson Juniper Downs said the changes were made "in consultation with our guests, Hosts and privacy experts," and would "provide our community with greater clarity about what to expect".

But while some of the site's users may welcome the change, others have taken to the Airbnb's Community Center to criticise the new policy, with some hosts saying having cameras in the common spaces of their shared homes offered them a measure of security.

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Speaking with Canadian broadcaster CBC, former Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian commented that the reform won't do anything to prevent hosts who were breaking the company's existing rules by installing hidden cameras from continuing to do so.

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