Smart Devices in Airbnbs: Considering Privacy and Security for both Guests and Hosts

Authors: Shrirang Mare (University of Washington and Indiana University), Franziska Roesner (University of Washington), Tadayoshi Kohno (University of Washington)

Volume: 2020
Issue: 2
Pages: 436–458
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2478/popets-2020-0035

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Abstract: Consumer smart home devices are becoming increasingly pervasive. As Airbnb hosts deploy smart devices in spaces shared with guests, we seek to understand the security and privacy implications of these devices for both hosts and guests. We conducted a largescale survey of 82 hosts and 554 guests to explore their current technology practices, their preferences for smart devices and data collection/sharing, and their privacy and security concerns in the context of Airbnbs. We found that guests preferred smart devices, even viewed them as a luxury, but some guests were concerned that smart devices enable excessive monitoring and control, which could lead to repercussions from hosts (e.g., locked thermostat). On average, the views of guests and hosts on data collection in Airbnb were aligned, but for the data types where differences occur, serious privacy violations might happen. For example, 90% of our guest participants did not want to share their Internet history with hosts, but one in five hosts wanted access to that information. Overall, our findings surface tensions between hosts and guests around the use of smart devices and in-home data collection. We synthesize recommendations to address the surfaced tensions and identify broader research challenges.

Keywords: Airbnb, Privacy, Security, Smart devices, Smart Homes

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