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Holidaymakers in France discover hidden camera in Airbnb bathroom

The woman took the camera to the local police station and an inquiry has been opened 

A close up view of a camera lens

The tiny camera was hidden in an alarm clock, which actually contained a 32GB memory card Pic: Bk87 / Shutterstock

A legal inquiry has been opened after two tourists in France discovered a hidden camera in their Airbnb bathroom. 

The woman who found the camera, Madison, in her 20s and from Meurthe-et-Moselle, was staying with her friend in an Airbnb near Annecy, Haute-Savoie. 

Two days after their stay began, she discovered the camera hidden in an alarm clock that was directed towards the shower.

She took the camera with her to the local gendarmerie, and they found that the device had a 32GB memory card inside.

Inquiry opened

The Annecy prosecutor has since opened an inquiry into the case, including a possible charge of privacy infringement. A request has been sent to Airbnb to identify the names of previous guests and other potential victims.

The property listing has now been removed and the host banned. He had been registered on the platform since 2018. 

However, Madison has said the listing is still present on other rental booking websites including Abritel and Booking.com.

Airbnb has said it is assisting with the inquiry. So far, police have found that 14 other people were captured by the camera before it was discovered.

The Annecy prosecutor, Line Bonnet-Mathis, said: “We are seeing this more and more [in France] even though this case in Haute-Savoie is still very rare.”

It does not only happen to ‘other people’

Madison explained that the now-deactivated rental listing had nothing to suggest that there was anything wrong with the property.

“There were many reviews, each one better than the last,” she said in a TikTok video about the incident, which has since been viewed almost 2 million times.

She now says she wants to warn other Airbnb users about the possibility of such incidents. She said: “If I hadn’t seen a video from someone else who it had happened to, I wouldn’t have even had it in my mind, because it’s so subtle.

“[Cameras] can be in the smoke detectors, in a USB plug, behind a mirror….and it’s not something that only happens to ‘other people’”.

She said she has had psychological counselling after the incident, and said: “I feel as though my privacy has been violated. This guy had hundreds of positive reviews and looked like the perfect family man. 

“Who knows what he was doing, because this camera was connected to the internet, and with an app, you can see it all live.”

Madison said that Airbnb had refunded their stay, but had not offered compensation or any other help. 

She said: “I find that disrespectful, after what’s happened.”

She said that she and her friend had contacted the other websites that are still showing the listing, and said their attitude was poor. “We contacted these sites, but they replied saying that it wasn’t on their platform, so there was no issue. I don’t understand how the case isn’t moving more quickly.”

A similar incident was reported in December 2022, when a woman from Seine-Maritime booked an Airbnb in Rouen. She also discovered a hidden camera in a clock in the bathroom, and a second camera pointed towards a bed. 

The apartment listing had a 4.56 out of 5 rating on Airbnb before it was removed.

At the time, Airbnb stated that it has “strict policies against using any kind of recording devices inside the properties rented on our platform, and we take firm measures against anyone who breaks the rules”. 

It especially bans “the use of hidden surveillance devices or their use in private spaces such as the bathroom, bedrooms or relaxing areas”, and said that “less than 0.1% of reservations give rise to a security report by hosts or travellers”.

Read also

Tourist reports hidden cameras near shower in her French Airbnb
Developer bans Airbnb-style rentals in new French homes
The French tourist cities taking a stand against Airbnb-style lets

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