Host uses hidden Dropcam to record Airbnb guests - a dicey issue for hosts, guest privacy and Airbnb
Recently a story broke that Airbnb was investigating a host for recording his guests while they were staying at his place.
I think the story is worth discussing because it touches on a few interesting legal issues regarding hidden Dropcams.
An Airbnb host allegedly recorded guests using the below contraption:
The Dropcam is loosely attached on the right hand side of the basket and can look through one of the little gaps in the basket's fabric. A bit of waste of the 135 degree wide angle camera lens, if you ask us ;) (our hidden Dropcam enclosures allow for full use of the camera's wide angle and night vision)
Afterwards, the guests searched the flat and found two more cameras.
A few key questions that arise from this incident are:
Can you record people in your own home by concealing a Dropcam?
The short answer is: of course you can, it's your own home! The questions whether or not the camera is hidden has NO LEGAL EFFECT whatsoever. So that's good news for every homeowner.
Hotel or private residence - what exactly is Airbnb?
While it is your right to record whatever you want in your home, guests in a hotel room are 'afforded a legally protected expectation of privacy'. Does the fact that Airbnb guests 'pay' their host, afford them the same rights as hotel guests? Does receiving money from a guest mean that a private residence becomes a 'commercial enterprise' or at the very least a 'short term lease'? If that was the case, this may have a huge impact on Airbnb's business model.
But let's not get carried away by the potentially massive impact on Airbnb's business! The important thing is that in the US and Canada you can freely place Dropcam's in your house and it is legally irrelevant if the camera is hidden or not.