As great as Airbnb is, it's also had its fair share of horror stories, and this one is no different.
Two years ago, tourists Edith Schumacher and her partner Kevin Stockton from Germany were enjoying their stay at an Airbnb rental in Irvine, California. That is, until on the third day Stockton noticed a flashing red light coming from a shelf in the living room.
The guests were shocked to find that the flashing red light was coming from a remote-controlled camera hidden on a shelf in between candles.
Aside from being extremely creepy, this is problematic because Schumacher sleeps naked and is concerned that after she walked to a hallway bathroom with no clothes on naked photos of her will appear online, whether from the Airbnb host, or from a webcam hacker.
On top of that, Schumacher is suing Airbnb for negligence in its vetting process, claiming it doesn't conduct proper background checks or require its hosts to follow the rules. Airbnb requires guests to disclose any security cameras in use, but these hosts didn't.
However, that disclosure is in a gray area. Since the incident happened in 2013, at the time, Airbnb didn't have anything in the fine print about hosts respecting their guests' privacy. Those rules were added to the site in 2014, almost a full year later.
Here's a statement sent to Fusion.net from Airbnb officials:
“Though we do not comment on pending litigation we will defend it vigorously. 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. 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.”
Schumacher is also suing the hosts, Fariah Hassim and Jamil Jiva, for "violating her privacy and intentionally inflicting emotional distress."