DENVER (KDVR) – Viral video on TikTok gets a lot of attention after a cybersecurity expert showed viewers how easy it is for Airbnb hosts and hotels to hide surveillance cameras on their property without you, the guest, know that.
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.
The number of calls it receives from customers here in Colorado has also increased.
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 where you should look for hidden cameras include devices like an alarm clock, smoke detector, or shower head.
Another suggestion from the experts is to download the free smartphone app, “Fing”.
“The ‘Fing App’ works if you have the WiFi password for the space where you are staying. 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 check-in devices.
At his website and in its application it lists the following:
Our Standards and expectations require all members of the Airbnb community to respect individual privacy. Specifically, we require hosts to disclose all security cameras and other recording devices in their listings, and we prohibit all security cameras and other recording devices that are found or observe inside certain rooms. private spaces (such as bedrooms and bathrooms), regardless of whether they were disclosed. Intentionally concealed recording devices (such as hidden security cameras) are never allowed.
Rules for 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 recording is in progress. If a host discloses the device after booking, Airbnb will allow the traveler to cancel the booking and receive a refund. Host cancellation penalties may apply. To find how to disclose information about security cameras and recording devices. Different rules apply for announcements in mainland China.
Rules for guests:
If you are a guest, our Standards and expectations require that you do not spy on other people or violate the privacy of others in any way. 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. We encourage you to discuss the use of security cameras and other recording devices using Airbnb’s messaging feature.
Failure to follow this policy may result in your suspension or removal from the Airbnb community. Additionally, you should ensure that your use of security cameras and other recording devices comply with applicable local laws and regulations.
What is considered a security camera or recording device
Any mechanism that can be used to capture or transmit audio, video or still images is subject to these rules. This includes, but is not limited to, items such as Wi-Fi cameras (for example, Nest Cam or Dropcam), nanny cameras, web cameras in computer monitors, baby monitors, home systems, etc. mounted or installed surveillance, decibel monitors and devices, and phones with video and / or audio recording capabilities.
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