Dublin, April 5 (IANS) A family from New Zealand vacationing in Ireland discovered they were being livestreamed by a hidden camera in the living room of their Airbnb accommodation.
Nealie and Andrew Barker were in the midst of a 14-month trip around Europe in March when they arrived at the Airbnb property in Ireland with their four children and niece, CNN said in a report on Friday.
Once the family unpacked, Andrew Barker, who works in IT security, scanned the house while trying to connect his phone to the Wi-Fi network at the accommodation and saw a device labelled “IP camera”.
The scan unearthed a camera and subsequently a live feed. From the angle of the video, the family tracked down the camera, concealed in what appeared to be a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector.
“He scanned that device’s ports and found the live video feed,” Nealie Barker said. “It was such a shock. It was just a really horrible feeling.”
The camera was in the lounge, positioned so it had a view of the dining and kitchen area as well.
Nealie Barker said her children were frightened after they realized the host could be watching them. “We looked at one another mortified as the realization of the situation sunk in.”
She called Airbnb to report the camera. “They had no advice for us over the phone. The girl just said that if you cancel within 14 days, you won’t get your money back.”
The family then called the owner of the property who hung up. Later, he called back, insisting the camera in the living room was the only one in the house, said the woman.
The family relocated to a nearby hotel.
Nealie Barker said Airbnb’s response was initially “hopeless” as it took weeks to hear back about the outcome of the investigation.
An Airbnb spokesperson said: “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 apologized to the family and fully refunded their stay. There have been over half a billion guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are incredibly rare.”