But when we weren't updating the listing, we were installing all kinds of smart home crap. There might not be any camera's, but every room has a google hub / speaker, a thermostat sensor (which looks suspiciously like a camera, particularly after reading this article) & wifi switches.
I don't see a need for any of this stuff. The barely find the 'problems' it solves inconvenient. And when balanced against the privacy implications, I have no interest in a smart home.
But I'm realising now that's going to make many Airbnb's unsuitable. Adding the hidden camera element... it just becomes impossible. If you really care about this issue, are you going to book an airbnb, then unplug every smart device, check for camera's, disable them somehow, and then re-connect everything when you leave?
- Having smart locks means I don't have to give out keys, and I can change lock codes remotely.
- Having a smart thermostat means not only can I change it remotely (once they've checked or to prepare it before checking in), but I also get notified of when the HVAC isn't working. (For example, the ecobee will email you if it's been heating for a couple of hours and the temperature has dropped). This is absolutely necessary in climates with periods of extreme cold as that can cause burst pipes, which then damage everything.
- Smart smoke detectors, CO2 detectors can notify you of problems that you won't otherwise find out about in a timely manner, given you're not at the location.
- Sensors that detect flooding. We have a condo that has been flooded by upstairs tenants. Putting a moisture detector between the walls means we get notified of a small problem before it becomes a huge problem.
I think having a smart home is even more important for a property that you don't live at then one where you do.
Actively telling guests "We don't have hidden cameras" has got to be extremely off-putting. There is not a huge problem with hidden cameras. Just fine/arrest/ban the hosts who actually do it, given evidence that it is them doing it.
How exactly do you plan to find identify all the hosts who do this?
If it's such a big problem offer a small bounty and watch people do it for you.
But what's stopping tenants planting cameras now? No risk to them really. Plant the camera, hook it up to the wifi and power. Now you can see everyone who stays. If the camera gets found, the landlord takes the risk.
Who is to say all these cameras we think from the landlord really are from tenants who know they can get away with.
Yes, I agree, the more you think about it, the more complex it appears and harder to solve.
The Federal voyeurism act of 2004 made it illegal in the US to record video of someone without their consent when that person had a reasonable expectation of privacy . Fines and up to one year in prison.
But I don't know of any actual convictions.
I bet if this happens in some jurisdiction with a politically ambitious prosecutor and the host were recording children then it will blow up.
It reminds me of, when I've been road-tripping, seeing billboards advertising "clean restrooms." I never know what to do with that info - trust it? Be more cautious of other places that don't advertise the cleanliness of their restrooms?
Hi! I'm Bob, not a murderer.
Otherwise, how people will know that you haven't killed anyone?
Just wait til they find out I'm not Bob.
That's just proper craigslist dating etiquette.
There is a popular theory that the handshake originated as a way to show your hand wasn't holding a weapon.
I think the evidence for this history is shaky at best, but it's been repeated because it's somehow a compelling idea -- what were people thinking many hundreds of years ago when crime was so common that you genuinely wondered about whether you could trust a casual acquaintance not to hurt you? What did they do to protect themselves?
It doesn't seem unreasonable to wonder about how to present yourself as "safe" in the deeply untrustworthy home-sharing privacy landscape where casual home surveillance is ultra-common (and where neither landlord nor tenant knows how much they can trust the other). I'm not sure there is a good answer and it's not crazy to try to look for one.
If strangers don't trust each other they show their hands to each other. Till today.
When you get close enough for a handshake the hand can allready hold a knive and is close enough to hurt.
Handshake tells you more about a person after you trust them not to kill you (right now)
Are you suspicious of a VPN service that claims that it doesn't collect logs?
Actually, maybe that's a bad question, because a large number of HN commenters _are_ suspicious of commercial VPNs, but would you say that a VPN that doesn't make such a claim is preferable to one that does?
Collecting and saving logs might defeat the purpose of the VPN service but it's not (AFAIK) illegal. By putting this in your contract, you make it binding, so yes, it has real value.
Maybe that's slightly more accurate?
1) being able to change door codes remotely and unlock the door remotely can save a lot of trips to the rental
2) being able to control the thermostat after people leave and have set the temp to 65 degrees is also really useful.
3) The only cameras I would use are outside the home so I can monitor it when it is vacant. I have the same policy in my own home
There is one exception, and that is to clarify both where the cameras are and aren’t. Saying “We have a security camera over the garage door, but no cameras in the house” comes off much more sincerely.
We've run into this with refrigerator shopping—we want a counter-depth fridge with what amounts to maybe $50-100 worth of "luxury" improvements in terms of cost to the manufacturer (a little more metal where some have plastic, castors for the drawers so they move a little better, "soft close" would be nice but its absence isn't a deal-breaker, some slightly more thoughtful than usual layout & organization) but all the ones with that kind of thing also bundle auto-opening doors and fancy smart junk and cost double what a mid-range fridge does. We just want to pay slightly (say $200-400) more for a fridge that doesn't feel like a (cheap!) kid's toy, but without a bunch of fancy junk. Such a product does not exist.
Then there's smoke detectors. Do some reading and it seems like they all suck, badly, except Nest Protect, which achieves best-of-a-bad-lot status. I just want smoke detectors that, you know, work, and don't annoy me so much in the kitchen that I end up unplugging that one permanently. Ideally they'd wirelessly trigger one another so I don't have to worry about wires for that. I don't really want or need them to connect to the Internet or to spy on me. Unfortunately sucks-the-least comes bundled with spies-on-you.
See also: the entire TV market.
Likewise, my smart sprinkler system monitors the weather and waters the lawn based on the amount of rain we've had. Over the rainy season here, it automatically disabled sprinkling for over 3 months. Sure, I could setup something with a water sensor, or push the rain-skip button each week, but it was nice to not have to think about it.
Why don’t we have some good software that will runt his stuff on our own servers locally?
I’m talking even mesh networking for the neighborhood, no Internet.
Is there any good software like that? For social networking, or parsing commands etc.
>>"...and then re-connect everything when you leave"
It seems to me that if I did use one, and found & disconnected some bugs, the last thing I'd do is reconnect them. I'd have no way to ensure that I reconnected everything properly, and they can fix their own damn setup. (TBH, I'd be more likely to take them and toss in the nearest trash bin -- what are they going to do, try and charge me for stealing their illegal bugging devices? I'm just taking out the trash.)
Although I have personally found a cheap android phone located in an outside, locked, electrical receptacle box with a charger plugged in. It all fit nicely. This was running a hotspot with hidden SSID.
This is something I would mention to people after they accept the rental agreement, preferably face to face.
If asked, I would say no cameras currently but planning to install by rent date, even if you end up not really doing it.
Everything but the re-connect bit. If you re-connect everything, the owner won't get the message.
that is a bigger privacy invasion if you ask me... and it is probably even illegal in some states (https://www.mwl-law.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/LAWS-ON-R...) ...
Edit: the Google device also has a visible physical mute button.
edit: do you really trust that button? they have hidden microphones before: https://www.cnet.com/news/google-calls-nests-hidden-micropho...
The tenants had discovered at least the doorbell camera and covered it up, to which the owners were not pleased and were debating calling the police on the tenant.
We were aghast at their complete lack of knowledge regarding undisclosed video surveillance of tenants and the violation of airbnb policy. My wife badly wanted to interject but we let it go. We did talk about how to mitigate these threats, made for some interesting vacation dinner conversation though.
Is there some sort of law or rule obligating tenants to keeping the view of cameras unobstructed?
If that's the case then merely standing in view of the camera would qualify as vandalism as well because you'd be obstructing the view of what is behind you.
I also run a rental, and that's has lead to a creep in new smart home devices. It came with a smart Lock and thermostat. I added a zwave card to control the lock remotely. Added motion sensors, doors sensors, leak detectors. It is nice to have such things when random people are staying in a place you own. I use a wyze cam in the basement (locked to renters) to monitor for fire alarms and keep and eye on cleaning folks. But would never install a camera while the unit is rented. I do have one in the off season...as the home sits mostly vacant for 6 months.
"You've got a tape of me? Congratulations! Send me a copy.
It's a good thing there wasn't a camera covering all of the apartment. I had a little digestion shenanigans going on, I'm glad there's no evidence I am the one who left that floor. I tried to clean it up, but I didn't have any industrial chemicals."
I don't actively sweep rooms but I'd be lying if I didn't say I inspected something that looked out of place when staying with the family at hotels and rentals. When I am by myself, I am less paranoid about these issues.
(and plenty of men do have that fear, but a lot that I know do not)
A picture of a male coworker naked doesn't elicit the same workplace issues that a picture of a female one does. That's unfortunate and I wish it weren't the case, but it is the case.
Men don't fear it as much as women, so they aren't as vigilant.
It wasn't even a point that was made. They simply mentioned women in their description.
It doesn't matter who fears it. It is a valid fear.
It can be stressful enough traveling with children without having to worry about all the variables of an Airbnb stay.
Whoops, don’t get any ideas now!
Try it out; point your TV remote at your smartphone camera and push the buttons. You might be able to barely see the light with your eye in dark conditions, but the blinking pattern should be bright and easy to see through your phone.
You can always test yours with any IR remote control - just point it at the camera, press any button and you should see the LED blinking.
The cheapest ones I have found are around $500. What FLIR device are you talking about?
They are electronically very simple (they are the boxes with wands and earphones you always see in espionage movies)
> As a countermeasure against an NLJD, professional covert listening devices (bugs) of the Central Intelligence Agency were equipped from 1968 onwards with a so-called isolator. An isolator is a 3-port circulator of which the return ports is terminated with a resistor. Any energy injected into the bug by an NLJD, will be absorbed by the resistor, resulting in no (or very little) reflected energy. An example of such a bug is the CIA's SRT-107.
Do modern concealed spy cameras have this kind of tech? Is there anyway to counter such a counter-measure?
Why did "forward looking" get glued onto that acronym? Why not just IR camera or detector? Did the military have less popular rear or side looking infrared devices? maybe "FLIR" was just fun to say? On a rocket powered missile rear-looking infrared seems pretty useless.
FLIR is arguably a misnomer when applied to handheld devices, though.
> ... it probalby measure the curvature
So how does it measure the curvature?
Edit: I wonder if anyone will get the reference
My hotel experiences, on the other hand, are usually much nicer. On arrival I look at the maps app on my phone to find hotels near where I want to be at, I see ratings and price ranges, I walk in and can ask to see the room, talk to someone who’s always polite and often speaks good English, and pay with debit card and have 0 emails or texts or accounts from anyone about my stay.
AirBNB might be nice if you want a ton of space or for long durations. This is purely as a comparison to hotels. Does anyone have different experiences?
AirBNB (Amazon too) also need to enforce normalized ratings. Another five star review? Either adjust all ratings to an agreed average (e.g. 3 stars) or let users "use up" their 5-star ratings allowance.
Absent that, my MO is use this formula f(rating) -> (rating - 4) * 10. Basically, focus on what's after the decimal; so a 4.3 translates to a 3/10. The fact that it allows for negative values is a feature.
This doesn't take into account people who are really picky about choosing accommodations and so only stay in listings that are worth of five stars, vs people who are very budget conscious and only stay in listings that are worth 3 stars.
If you normalize these two people's ratings that will give the same 3-star average rating to both marginal and great listings.
I'll take a living room, kitchen, and then a series of private bedrooms down the hall over that any day.
For personal travel, we've stayed in awesome city loft apartments, little cottage houses, and even a (no-kidding) tree house in Costa Rica. I like living a little closer to "local normal" rather than having a sterilized, sanitized, pre-packaged hotel room experience.
My good experiences outweigh bad at least 9:1 on AirBnB.
Assuming there is only 1 tree house AirBnB listed in Costa Rica, we've stayed in the same place. Super cool design!
We've also used them for away-from-kids weekend retreats with other couples. Hotels wouldn't work at all, the whole point is to find some place pleasant to hang out in for a couple days, that's not your own house, and that can handle 4-6 people without feeling crowded. Hanging out in a hotel's just sad, not pleasant and relaxing, at least at prices we can afford.
I've also noticed that a lot of boutique hotels (5-10 rooms) often list on the VRBO sites now. The last time I was in Greece, all of my island accommodations were booked on VRBO type sites but were really just small hotels.
Having used AirBnb for 6+ years, yes. Without AirBnB, we probably would not be able to live the lifestyle we live (nomadic in SEA with 3 people, usually 2-6 months in a place)
The long durations and space are definitely something we need. Some other benefits I have found:
1. Kitchens. We can't live without a kitchen of decent size. Sink, full-ish fridge, counter space.
2. Lots of choice in terms of location/look/layout/price/etc. Hotels are mainly in tourist hubs, and in SEA, usually are either decently priced and of questionable quality or much more than we want to spend (especially once you factor in AirBnB monthly discounts).
3. I trust AirBnb customer service more than hotels. Most hotels in SEA aren't chains so you are at the whim of the owners. I have had nothing but good experiences with AirBnB customer service. They can be helpful when things are getting lost in translation as well.
4. Depending on the Host, Airbnb cancellation policies tend to be more flexible, and because it's not a chain, hosts are usually more accommodating. Less "I'm sorry sir, it's company policy".
5. Airbnb's interface tends to be much easier/nicer to use. Everything is in one place, you don't have various hotel booking sites to deal with, the map works really well and you can filter by many different criteria.
6. My wife loves searching through Airbnbs for treasure :)
There are drawbacks to airbnb style, but positives more than counter-balance them.
Also you usually have more square meter at the same price point.
Obviously if you're travelling alone or with someone you're happy to share a bed with, that's irrelevant. But if your group has 3 people who would prefer not to share a room, a rented apartment works out cheaper than three hotel rooms.
And I'm pretty sure that it's less often in hotels as well - they are generally more professional. Well worth the extra bucks for me.
They probably have a property?
You could argue this is true for hotels as well, but the larger operators are likely to be more diversified and in better shape.
Which is to say, you can probably at least seize the camera that was used to record you, if it's still in there. And you could also take other consumer electronics gear that's in there, that you could use yourself, like routers and televisions.
And if you're getting jerked around and feeling vindictive, you'll go to a hardware store website and check the prices on cat5e cables, coax cables, doorknobs, hinge pins, interior doors, shower heads, toilet hardware, mattresses, mini-fridges, microwave ovens, toasters, coffee-makers, etc. Just bring some tools when you go to collect. Even a small unpaid judgement can render a short-term rental unusable. The replacement cost of all those little things is as nothing compared to the labor cost of delivering and reinstalling all of it.
> It is sometimes said that "All hotel rooms abroad are bugged for audio and visual surveillance." Of course it is not true that all of them are bugged, but a great many are -- especially in major hotels frequented by foreign business and government travelers.
> Most foreign security and intelligence services have various means of screening incoming visitors to identify persons of potential intelligence interest. They also have well-established contacts with the hotels that commonly host conferences and meetings with international participation. For convenience, some even maintain permanent offices within the largest hotels. If the local intelligence service considers you a significant intelligence target, it may arranged for you to be assigned a room that is already prepared for the desired monitoring.
Another declassified guide:
> In your hotel, assume that the room and telephone are being monitored. DO NOT try to play investigator and start looking for electronic listening devices. This again could send the wrong signals to a surveillant. Just make sure that you do not say or do anything in your hotel room that you would not want to see posted on the Internet.
This guide's from the NASA:
> The bottom line is this: When traveling over-seas, in particular for official business and where accommodations are provided by the host, assume that your hotel room and work spaces contain clandestine audio and video surveillance devices.
These are all US government sources meant for their own employees. The US government is good at this intelligence stuff so I presume they know what they are talking about. And you can expect that they are doing the same to foreign guests staying in the USA.
You'll will find similar sources from the UK govt as well (search for "site:*.gov.uk hotel room surveillance").
Most people aren't important government employees that everybody in the world is trying to spy on, and no intelligence service will install bugs in their rooms.
And it's absolutely to their benefit, AirBnB has enough publicity problems without being known as a source of scummy videos.
Your experience, and informative blog post is a strong reminder to remain vigilant and aware.
That's... just weird?
Or it's just me being a paranoic with low empathy score?
Not always. An infrared filter could be used. Silicon sensors are quite sensitive to such wavelengths. So any shiny black surface could be a camera. Sometimes in the right light the filter might look sort of reddish.
And probably don't use an IPv6 network if you're the host unless you want to hide a device on the network.
Only half joking.
There's a aphorism "if life gives you storms, learn to dance in the rain". If life gives you voyeurs learn to dance naked and not care???