The increase of surveillance cases
The issue came into focus when Marcus Hutchins, a famous hacker, who stopped the infamous WannaCry virus, posted a video on TikTok explaining how to spot a hidden camera in your hotel room or AirBnb. From this video, we can also see how easy it is to plant one.
Thomas Ham, the owner of the counter-surveillance measure company Spy Catchers LLC, said that their workload has doubled since the pandemic began. This indicates that the issue is much more prevalent than we may think.
How to spot a hidden camera in your Airbnb or hotel room
Experts claim that spotting a hidden camera in your room is not that difficult, and you don’t need any sophisticated spy-gadgets — a phone with a camera is usually enough. Below we give you some tips on how to do this:
- Try shining a light on the lens of the suspected hidden camera. Camera lenses will reflect a red or blue color when hit by light. First, try shining a light on places where you suspect a camera might be hidden. Some of the popular hiding places include shower heads, smoke detectors, and alarm clocks. But we also recommend checking other electronic devices present in the room;
- Use the Fing app. By using the app, you can log in to the place’s Wi-Fi network and see the devices connected to it. It also shows you the nature of the connected devices, so you can immediately see if there is a camera;
- Switch off the Wi-Fi router and see whether you get a call from the owner complaining that someone has disabled the Wi-Fi. If you do, then there is a serious red flag that there are cameras hidden around.
What to do if your spot a hidden camera
First of all, get out of the place and find another one as soon as possible.
Airbnb explicitly forbids users from monitoring both guests and hosts without their consent. So, if you find a camera, you can cancel the reservation and immediately get a refund after reporting it to the service. Also, the host might get a permanent ban from Airbnb due to such violations.
If you find a camera in a hotel room, immediately report it to the management as well as the platform where you made the reservation (e.g., booking.com). If this doesn’t help, sometimes it’s a good idea to involve law enforcement as it is a serious privacy violation punishable by law in most countries.