In yet another reason a hotel might be a safer option than Airbnb, the space-rental website has been hit with a lawsuit alleging hidden cameras in a California apartment rental.
In her suit, Yvonne Schumacher alleges that she found a camera hidden behind candles on a living-room shelf in the Irvine, CA, apartment she rented through Airbnb in Dec. 2013, Mashable reported.
Schumacher filed lawsuits against Airbnb, accusing the company of negligence, and against the apartment owners for invasion of privacy and emotional distress.
In the complaint, Schumacher said the camera recorded personal and intimate conversations, leaving her “deeply humiliated and angry.” She believes the camera was operated by remote control — and worries that nude pictures of her taken in the apartment might leak.
Airbnb’s said in a statement to Mashable that “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.”
The news comes nearly a year after a Harvard Business School study revealed discrimination is also an issue on the Airbnb site. In July, researchers sent out more than 6,000 messages to hosts in Washington DC, Baltimore, St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Dallas seeking rooms—and found that guests with African-American names were 16% less likely to be accepted by landlords than identical guests with distinctively white names.
"While information can facilitate transactions, it also facilitates discrimination. Clearly, the manager of a Holiday Inn cannot examine names of potential guests and reject them based on race. Yet, this is commonplace on Airbnb," the Harvard report said.
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