Room with a View: Airbnb hosts accused of recording guests - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Room with a View: Airbnb hosts accused of recording guests

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SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – Airbnb is tackling privacy concerns after several customers found hidden cameras inside some of their rentals.

The company told CBS News it "takes privacy extremely seriously and there is absolutely no place in our community for this kind of behavior."

Twenty-two-year-old Meghan Hilden from Washington State was in Switzerland in 2016 when she said a friend discovered a cellphone under the sink in the bathroom at their Airbnb.

“I was like this could be the day that I get killed or worse, I don't know. We saw the phone was filming and we were whispering and trying to be very quiet // we weren't sure if it was being live streamed,” she said.

Soon after, Hilden said they found an iPad also recording. They quickly left and reported the incident to the company.

"It was just like very scary and I kind of felt like it was one of those moments where if we don't get our stuff together something very bad could happen."

There have been other similar incidents. In late November, activist and filmmaker Jason Scott tweeted his colleague found a camera disguised in a motion detector at an Airbnb. The company called the discovery “incredibly rare” and said the host was banned.

In October, an Indiana couple said they found a camera in a smoke detector in the bedroom at their Airbnb in Florida. The home owner was arrested for video voyeurism.

Cameron Russell is a professor at Fordham Law. "Simply put, property owners can be peeping Toms."

In June, a German tourist settled with Airbnb for an undisclosed amount after allegedly finding a hidden “remote-controlled camera” at a property in California.

Hidden said while Airbnb refunded her for the Switzerland stay, and reimbursed her for other travel expenses, she still felt it was not enough.

"I think that that was pretty much the bare minimum of what they could have done to help us out // For all we know he still has the videos that were on the iPad,” she said.

The company told CBS News around two million people use Airbnb on any given night. They are always willing to work with law enforcement when complaints are made.

Experts said there are a few things you can do to protect yourself: Invest in a digital device detector, search rooms, or use a flash light to try and spot lenses.

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