Cameras & microphones on Smart TVs

In a Facebook group a person asked about disclosing the cameras on smart TVs. In the tradition of FB groups people jumped all over the question declaring they didn’t exist. Well they do.

If the TV offers facial recognition for suggesting programming or limiting the programs (e.g. nothing R rated for a 10 year old), it has a camera. The camera can be high jacked and used to spy on the residents. As of now this is an uncommon offering and the televisions with this option are expensive. (I will not be considering this purchase.)

However voice controlled remotes are common.

If the TV is set up to allow data collection for marketing purposes, a third party can record conversations. This is similar to what Amazon Alexa does. This feature can be disabled BUT Airbnb requires disclosure of audio/video recording devices working & non-working.

Guests are quick to report any audio/video recording devices. Airbnb will shut you down for non-disclosure. If you have a voice activated remote, you may wish to deactivate that feature & disclose it in your listing.


I have Echo Dots throughout the house to control some lamps (poorly designed lighting in the house) and stream Amazon Music Unlimited to some portable speakers.

When I give the house tour I point them out (don’t know if my housekeeper does) and they are mentioned on the “Important Stuff” document on the refrigerator and in the main part of my listing.

No cameras, just audio. Do I need to report them somewhere else?

I really hate that I feel that I have to protect myself against guests (and clueless CS reps) on AirBnB. I don’t mind people unplugging the Dots (we’ve had people do that), but I don’t want a CS rep giving back hundreds or thousands of dollars to a scammer simply because I didn’t tell “disclose” something in the right place or the right way.

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In your description include “We provide Echo Dots throughout the house. Please enjoy.”

Airbnb requires all audio and/or video recording devices (working & non-working) disclosed for:
Location, what it records & when it records and if the recordings are saved.

For example
Front door Ring doorbell-24/7 motion activated video & sound recording. Recordings may be saved.

I don’t know much about Echo dots. I’m guessing you should disclose under “things guests need to know” as
Living room echo dot, 24/7 on demand voice activation. Sounds not saved.

This may be more than is required but for this situation, over disclosure can protect you from refunds & shutdown.

If there is anything that has the potential to record audio or video, it would seem wise to make that clear. I have zero idea what an Echo Dot is or does, and I doubt I am the only person like that, so I wouldn’t consider that to be disclosure.

It’s like disclosing that there is a dog on the premises. If that dog barks a lot, that needs to be disclosed- you can’t just expect guests to assume that because there’s a dog, there will be excessive barking.


Seems clear to me - and I don’t think a host needs to explain technology to a guest in order to fulfill a requirement for disclosure.

These things are really common these days. However, not knowing about x or y is not an excuse for the guest to claim ignorance. “Smart” technology is all around - the front doorbell/camera, the thermostat that senses if you are home or not, all exist in many brand names…

As far as I’m aware, a host needs to specifically state where cameras and other recording devices are. Just listing the brand name of some device is not going to protect a host if a guest tells Airbnb there were undisclosed recording devices.

That’s exactly the meaning of the word “ignorance”. It means you don’t know about something, it’s not an “excuse”.

“I mentioned that I have a Ring doorbell in my listing info. It’s not my fault the guest doesn’t know that’s a recording device”, is not going to fly with Airbnb.

“We provide Echo Dots throughout the house” tells me that… they are located throughout the house. Did you mean they need to say what rooms they are in?

It might tell you that, but it wouldn’t tell me that, because I don’t know what an Echo Dot is or does. If it’s a recording device, that needs to be stated, in addition to where they are located.

Yes. Airbnb is very specific about what is required for disclosure and has penalized hosts for partially but not fully meeting their requirements. In other groups, hosts have reported being held to higher disclosure standards than in the policies.

Above in this thread I posted the policies.

Where it is, what it records, when it records & if the recordings are saved are the basic requirements.


The Echo does not record.

Well, if a device does not record any audio or visual, there is obviously no requirement to disclose a recording device.

However, it isn’t a bad idea for a host
who has devices which may be suspected by guests of recording, to simply say, “This is not a recording device, just a voice-activated method of turning the lights on and off”.

Hosts have had their listings suspended because guests mistook retracted sprinkler heads or smoke alarms for recording devices. This isn’t a “I shouldn’t have to say that” hill to die on, it’s just a way for hosts to protect themselves.


According to Amazon, it doesnt. However, they have already been caught saving audio “to improve voice recognition”.

Its a fine line, I upgraded my Fire TV sticks (Amazon device to stream to any tv similar to roku). The new ones have a microphone button so you can literally talk to the TV - “Resume Playing XYZ TV Show”. Does that count as a recording device? Anything you say to it will never be available to me. But, I have no faith in Jeff Bezos that its not being recorded somewhere. So, do I need to disclose my Fire Sticks?

I personally have on purpose NOT installed any Amazon Echo’s or Dot’s or whatever in my unit. Too many of the newer devices CAN record sound AND VIDEO. So, the perception that they can record video and pictures is too much for me to chance a misunderstanding.

Lets not forget that the vast majority of us are carrying around listening devices in our pocket… hey Siri… or Hey Google…


Many folks see anything the do not understand as threats to their well-being. Where is the line to be drawn? This forum has seen folks who have guests who turn off wifi, unplug refrigerators, and more, due to ignorance. I doubt that airbnb needs to see something in the home description about everything that could possibly be misunderstood…

I didn’t think so, either, but I checked mine. It is set by default to record the words that were addressed to it after the wake word. The reason is to “train” it - you can review the recording to see what you said, and indicate whether it did what you wanted it to (essentially training it).

I just set mine to not record anything at all. It doesn’t make sense to train it for short-term guests. The “good” part is that they are out in the open and easy to unplug if a guest does not want to use it.

I guess it’s time to update the listing, again.

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Catherine Powell, Global Head of Hosting for AirBnB, said on the Community Center that hosts should make it clear in their house rules that an outdoor pool might have a leaf in it. (No, I am not joking.) So, yes, I feel like I have to be clear about everything or take a risk of a significant financial loss.


The Echo does not record anything that can be accessed by the Host. When a guest calls with their phone on a customer service call and is recorded, the Host is not responsible for that recording nor do hosts need to warn about them, despite the fact that the phone call recorded the guest while in the airbnb.

Yes-anything with voice recognition can be recording words after the wake up word or button push to train the device or for marketing purposes.

Remember the press about Alexa listening. Just because you aren’t recording doesn’t mean the manufacturer isn’t or that the device hasn’t been hi-jacked. Supposedly wifi TVs & streaming devices wifi connections are easily hacked.

My only protection is no one is interested in my private conversations. I can easily see where hacked device conversations could be alluring for some people.

“J-lo & Ben Affleck just said they are leaving for Wedding. Inquiring minds just heard it from their Firestick”

“High end rental property to be empty from 5:30 until while large group goes out to eat. Luggage & technology to be left unattended. We heard it on Alexa.”

Yes silly, extreme examples but could happen so just protect your rental business, disclose it.


:rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Do what you please. Belittling others for trying to do things in the best interest of their business does not place you in a good light.