Kashmir Hill reports:
Marcella Riley, 29, was having a hard time last summer. After moving to L.A. from New York, the aspiring comedian wasn’t making enough money to pay rent, and so was surfing friends’ couches. In June, a friend named Conor —whom she’d met years earlier when they worked together at an Apple Store—offered the couch in his living room indefinitely. She was incredibly grateful. But a month into her couch tenancy, her gratitude turned to anger when she spotted a small black device taped to a bookshelf facing the couch. It was a camera made by Dropcam; the light that indicated when it was turned on had been covered with black electrical tape. Riley was horrified.
Unbeknownst to her, Riley had stumbled into one of the thornier privacy issues raised by the growth of Airbnb, Couchsurfing, and other home-sharing services, which have us sleeping in other people’s houses more often than ever before. The rise of cheap, easy-to-install security cameras has given peace of mind to many homeowners in these situations. But people installing cameras in their homes—even if for non-creepy reasons—can run into unanticipated legal problems, from inadvertently breaking state and federal privacy laws by recording visitors without their knowledge to capturing footage that could come back to haunt camera owners. (Literally.) Last month, Dropcam was involved in another surreptitious spying episode when Airbnb guests discovered three Dropcams hidden in the apartment they had rented from a Canadian host.
Read more on Fusion.