DENVER (KDVR) – Viral video on TikTok is all the rage after cybersecurity expert showed viewers how easy it is for Airbnb hosts and hotels to hide surveillance cameras in their properties without guests knowing .
Spy Catchers LLC, a professional technical surveillance countermeasures company, works with people to help track hidden devices such as surveillance cameras.
According to company owner Thomas Ham, work has doubled since the start of the pandemic.
As in the TikTok video, Ham says that guests who stay at an Airbnb or hotel can easily find any recording device (if available), by casting a light into the lens of a hidden camera.
Experts, including Ham, say the camera’s lenses will reflect a blue or red color when struck by light.
Typical areas you should look for include devices like an alarm clock, smoke detector, or shower head.
Some experts also suggest downloading the free “Fing” smartphone app.
“The Fing app works if you have the WiFi password for the space you are staying in. It will connect to that network and actually give you a list of all the devices currently listed on that network. It does its best to give you an idea of what each device is. Whether it’s a cell phone IP address, cameras, things of that nature, ”Ham said.
Ham offered another tip: When you first enter a rental property, turn off the Wi-Fi and router.
If you receive a call from the host informing you that the WiFi has been turned off, this could serve as a good flow to start a conversation about the presence of cameras on the property.
Airbnb has rules in place to protect its guests from any hidden recording device, which it defines as “any mechanism that can be used to capture or transmit audio, video or still images.”
At his website and in its app, the company said it requires everyone in the “Airbnb community to respect everyone’s privacy,” adding that hosts must reveal security cameras and other recording devices in their listings and refrain from adding them in private spaces such as bathrooms and bedrooms.
Airbnb also lists the rules specifically for Hosts and Guests.
For the hosts:
“If you are a host and have some type of security camera and / or other recording device in or around an advertisement, even if it is not turned on or plugged in, we ask you to indicate its presence in the Things to Know section under Health and Safety. We also ask that you disclose how guests will be monitored and whether an active check-in is taking place, “he said. Airbnb added that if a device is disclosed after booking, the traveler can cancel the booking and receive a refund.
For the guests:
“If you are a guest, our Standards and expectations require you not to spy on other people or violate the privacy of others, ”Airbnb said. “Our policy prohibits the use of a security camera or other recording device by a guest to monitor a host or any third party in the ad without that person’s consent.”
The company says any breach could result in suspension or removal from the Airbnb community.
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