Thursday 22 August 2019

Through the keyhole: Family claim they were secretly filmed on holiday by Irish Airbnb host

Discovery: The family smile for the CCTV camera after they found the wifi connection allowed them to view it
Discovery: The family smile for the CCTV camera after they found the wifi connection allowed them to view it
Mum Nealie Barker complained to Airbnb
The camera was disguised as a smoke detector
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is seeking information from Airbnb after a family found a hidden camera in their letting.

The Barker family, from New Zealand, were staying at an Airbnb in Co Cork on March 3 when they came upon the camera in the living room.

Mother-of-five Nealie Barker took to Facebook to share the unnerving experience, writing: "We just found a camera hidden in a smoke alarm case in the private living room of a listing.

"We were travelling with children. The host admitted to the concealed camera over the phone, only after presented with our irrefutable proof.

"The Airbnb safety team investigated our complaint (we provided photos and snapshot of video feed)."

A spokesperson for the Office of Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon told the Irish Independent: "The DPC has just become aware of the issue and we will be seeking further information from Airbnb on the matter."

Ms Barker's husband, IT consultant Andrew, found they were being filmed on a live feed while trying to connect his mobile phone to the wifi at the property.

Ms Barker says they viewed live footage of themselves on her husband's phone.

Ms Barker claimed that several weeks after the incident, Airbnb sent a message stating it had found no wrongdoing on the part of the host and the house listing was reinstated.

In reaction, the mother took to social media to spread the news of what had occurred.

She said Airbnb had then got back in touch to offer a refund and said it would investigate the listing and host. The family left the accommodation on the night they arrived for a three-night stay. They booked into a nearby hotel.

Ms Barker claims the host admitted he had the hidden camera to look after his "asset".

Ms Barker wrote on her travel blog: "In Cork we had a spectacular Airbnb fail when (Andy) ...found a concealed CCTV camera in the lounge/dining/kitchen area of the house.

"...After Andy hacked the live-feed and called the owner to ask what the fudge sticks was going on, it all blew up and we ended up leaving the house and having to find emergency accommodation. We got our money back and the guy is currently under investigation with his Airbnb listing removed."

Airbnb told the Irish Independent it had "zero tolerance" on violations by hosts.

"We have permanently removed this bad actor from our platform. Our original handling of this incident did not meet the high standards we set for ourselves and we have apologised to the family and fully refunded their stay," a company spokesperson said, adding such "negative incidents are incredibly rare".

Irish Independent

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