The fact that we have a “reasonable expectation of privacy” in certain locations is a concept that is, for better or worse, changing all the time. Thanks to the fact that hidden cameras are becoming more powerful and more affordable than ever, we’ve reached a point where every time you walk down a city street you just have to assume that your image is being captured in a multitude of different ways that you’ll probably never know. When you walk into a retail store, you have to get used to the fact that someone, somewhere, is probably watching your every move.
But there are certain locations where this lack of privacy is NOT okay — like hotels or vacation rentals, for example. Sadly, even these areas might not be off limits to the types of people who want to spy on your every move, as one recent news piece went a long way toward proving.
The Situation With Hidden Cameras
Part of the reason why hidden cameras are such a problem in hotels and vacation rentals has to do with a shift in those industries in recent years. Many people are saying “goodbye” to traditional hotels in favor of options like Airbnb where you rent from a private citizen instead of a large, national corporation with a reputation on the line. The money that you’ll be saving clearly comes with other costs, as recent events have clearly illustrated.
Earlier in 2017, for example, a couple from Indiana rented a vacation property on Airbnb on Longboat Key, Florida. Almost immediately after arriving, they discovered a hidden camera that was secretly recording guests in the master bedroom. They called the police, and the man who owned the home was arrested and charged with video voyeurism.
Another woman recently found a series of indoor surveillance cameras in a private home she had rented (also on Airbnb). When she contacted the police, however, she was in for quite a surprise — the listing for the property actually did disclose the fact that there were security cameras hidden in the home; she had just missed it. If she wanted to stay in the home, she had to make her peace with the fact that her every move was being recorded.
Events like these and others also point out how important it is to examine a hotel room or vacation rental BEFORE you do anything that you don’t want others to see. Security cameras are often easy to spot and don’t necessarily mean that a homeowner is up to no good. Other cameras, like those specifically designed to be hidden, are not so obvious.
One of the best ways to spot nearly any type of camera is to look for lens reflection. Turn off all the lights in a room and shine a flashlight in as many areas as you can. If you see a bright reflection shining back at you in a place where such a reflection just doesn’t make sense, take a closer look — you might be looking at a hidden camera.
You’ll also want to take a closer look at vents, holes in the wall, gaps in the ceilings or similar types of areas where a hidden camera could be concealed. If you do happen to find such a camera, the first thing you’ll want to do is take pictures of it with your phone. This documentation may prove valuable if you’re involved in a privacy-related lawsuit at a later date.
Likewise, you’ll also want to contact the local police department and let them know what you’ve discovered. Tell them that you have direct, irrefutable evidence that someone has been spying on you. Specify that they are doing so without your knowledge or permission in a space that you’ve rented for vacation. Once the police arrive, they’ll be able to take care of the rest. Don’t be afraid of making a big deal about the situation, because at the end of the day, you’re still talking about your privacy. That in and of itself is about the “biggest” that a deal can get.