Saturday 1 October 2016

Woman sues Airbnb after she discovers hidden camera in her holiday rental home

Sasha Brady

Published 21/12/2015 | 12:03

Airbnb. Photo: Getty
Airbnb. Photo: Getty

A German woman is suing accommodation website Airbnb after she discovered a hidden camera in her holiday rental home.

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Edith Schumacher was horrified when her partner, Kevin Stockton, found the hidden camera on the third day of their holiday in Irvine, California.

According to The Recorder, the camera was hidden under a pile of clothes in the bedroom.

The incident occurred in December 2013 but Schumacher is now taking action against Airbnb and the couple who advertised their home on the accommodation website for invasion of privacy and emotional distress.

She's also suing Airbnb for negligence, arguing that the company should have performed background checks on its hosts.

A statement on Airbnb's website reads: "We expect hosts to respect their guests’ privacy. Although we can’t provide you with specific legal advice, the use of surveillance equipment may violate the law in your jurisdiction."

The company adds: "Notify your guests about any security cameras or other surveillance devices at or around your listing and get consent where required."

This isn't the first time Airbnb has come under fire for hidden cameras in rentals. Back in January of this year, a similar incident happened in Canada.

At that time, Airbnb said that it had a "zero tolerance" policy for hidden cameras and that anyone doing illegal, undisclosed surveillance would be banned from advertising their property on the website.

But according to Schumacher's lawyer, that "zero tolerance" policy was completely ignored when the German woman and her partner reported the hidden camera incident to Airbnb.

A spokesman for Airbnb told Mashable: “Airbnb takes privacy issues extremely seriously. All hosts must certify that they comply with all applicable laws in their locations and are of course expected to respect the privacy of their guests."

The company spokesman added that Airbnb "warns hosts to fully disclose whether there are security cameras or other surveillance equipment at or around the listing and to get consent where required."

Her legal team wrote in the complaint that she is "deeply humiliated and angry about the fact that the camera was and/or could have been used to spy upon her while she was completely undressed and walking around within the property."

She's also worried that "images of her exist in electronic form and could make their way onto the internet or some other medium.”

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