Airbnb Says Hosts Can No Longer Use Indoor Cameras

The vacation rental company is ramping up privacy as it continues to battle customer satisfaction issues.

Photo of a surveillance camera
Photo by Alan J. Hendry via Unsplash

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In 1984, paranoid pop singer Rockwell sang “I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” Four decades later, short-term rental customers say they know the feeling.

In response to guests’ calls for privacy, vacation rental service Airbnb has banned the use of indoor cameras across its listings globally.

We Won’t Be Watching

Opening your home — or second home — to strangers, even paying ones, can be nerve-wracking for some hosts. But vacation travelers also don’t like the feeling that Big Brother is peeking over their shoulders while they read an Emily Henry novel.

Airbnb previously allowed hosts to install indoor security cameras in common areas like living rooms and hallways, but not in intimate spaces like bathrooms or bedrooms, as one visiting couple found in Brazil in 2022. And any cameras had to be clearly visible and disclosed to guests, so no secret nanny cams hidden inside teddy bears. 

But beginning April 30, there will be no exceptions: 

  • In a blog post Monday, Airbnb didn’t specify how many hosts use indoor security but said the majority of listings don’t, so the new rule shouldn’t have a major impact on its host clientele.
  • Airbnb also said that hosts now need to provide the general locations of outdoor cameras and decibel readers before guests book a reservation. Airbnb said the changes were made in collaboration with guests, hosts, and privacy experts.

Customer is Always Right: Despite Airbnb’s size and success, it continues to deal with the types of issues associated with plucky new startups. Its most consistent problem has been poor customer satisfaction regarding quality and prices promised on listings, a point CEO Brian Chesky highlighted in an interview with Bloomberg last year. Eliminating indoor cameras is one move to help appease guests. So, if you do check into a property with a funky smell or one that is half as big as promised, at least you won’t be on camera when you start cursing.