WiFi pet cameras

We arrived at our first sit to find a camera in the kitchen which the owner obviously used to monitor her pets while at work.
We were not informed about this. We didn’t unplug it but covered it up as we considered it invasive. What we didn’t know was if the owner could hear our conversations.
How do other sitters deal with this? Should I have been informed about the camera? Are there any rules in the THS agreement about cameras, if not should there be?
Looking forward to other sitters views.

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Hi @Marcus
THS do not allow any working indoor cameras. The owner should have switched the camera off before you arrived.
I would unplug the camera immediately and advise the HO it’s against THS rules to have any working indoor cameras. You can escalate this to THS support - support@trustedhousesitters.com.

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@Marcus there’s a Help tab at the top of the TrustedHousesitters homepage. Use key words to help you search any questions. Here’s the information on this topic:

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@Marcus As others have stated, it is against THS policy. Yes, unplug anything you suspect to be a video or audio device.

Moving forward, during your pre-sit video chat, be sure to ask about any inside cameras or audio devices with homeowners.

And finally, please mention the facts about this in your review. Just facts, nothing emotional. That way, future sitters will be sure to inquire with the HOs when the apply.

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I would check with the owner. It might be an honest mistake. We have cameras setup for when we leave the cats alone a day or two. We remove all cameras before the sitters get here when we go away for longer but that owner might have forgotten to do so. I would definitively remove it not just unplug it; some cameras have batteries and can go up to 30 days unplugged (we have one of those) so unplugging it wouldn’t do the trick.

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This will highly likely have audio as well. Definitely turn it off.
As others have already said it is not permitted.

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I understand being both upset and feeling violated to find the camera there. However, it would seem to me that the first thing to do – after you figure out how to unplug/mute it etc, would be to call/contact the pet parent. They might not have been aware of the rule. They might have meant to turn it off and forgotten. They can also probably help you make sure it’s really and truly off. I would only call THS to complain if the HOs somehow insisted they need it on and most see their furbabies. This whole thing works on communication. Sometimes problems (even serious ones) can be solved without being escalated.

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We’ve only had one place that had simply forgot to unplug the internal camera, it was a totally innocent mistake as they were the ones that messaged us when they remembered to say they’d forgot. We haven’t had any others, but if we did, we would simply unplug it automatically, and pop a cover over the camera bit, and just message the owners about what we’ve done, as I can’t imagine any of the HO’s we’ve sat for would leave it on intentionally.

Internal cameras aren’t allowed with THS, but I can imagine a lot of HO’s would forget to turn them off, as they’d be focused on their passports & packing. So it’s probably a very innocent oversight.

External cameras are different, they are allowed, and rightfully so.

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Hi @Marcus — oh my goodness how dreadful.

In future feel free to unplug ALL surveillance technology including cameras and devices like Alexa — this is prohibited by THS and in many municipal/ city jurisdictions.

As part of my 2-way interview process with HOs I ask if they have surveillance in writing, requesting a reply in writing. If they do have surveillance I decline the sit.

If you find surveillance that cannot be switched off, or the HO refuses to switch it off, you have legal grounds to leave immediately.

Surveillance technology of your home when someone else is staying in it is NOT ok.

I see @Snowbird has sent you the info link, super.

As @KenandMary1998 said, definitely make a note of this in your review to warn other sitters. Hopefully the HO will address this appropriately moving forward.

Best of luck,
Stephanie

Hi STH,
Can you tell me why there is a problem with Alexa? Quite a few home owners have this device and I use it to request it to play music or a radio station. What else can it do that I do not know about?

Hi @Visit I have attached an article regarding Alexa devices you might want to have a look at

Can You Drop In On Alexa Without Them Knowing? #Answered).

WOWOWOW
I had no idea Alexa did this, I’ve been sitting and almost everyone has one :expressionless:

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I’ve had “aware” Alexa users offer to turn it off. Often it is so integrated into the household that that could present it’s own diffiulties. Maybe it’s a question of comfort level, but I haven’t been worried about homeowner’s using Alexa to actually spy on me during sits.

If they did spy on me, they would mostly hear news anchors etc :slight_smile:

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The only two bad experiences I have had so far have been sits where the HOs had interior cameras. One was very obvious and it was plugged into the kitchen but also covered the living room. I left it because this was under the old Review system, and I didn’t want them leaving retaliatory feedback. But I avoided being anywhere near it for the whole sit!

The second one; they told me in advance that they had it, so as discreetly as possible I mentioned I would not feel comfortable, and I sent them a link to the THS rules on interior cameras. They insisted they unplugged then all. But when I did the sit, I would find several devices plugged into mains sockets that looked a LOT like the power supply for such cameras.

So as I couldn’t find any cameras themselves… (they could in theory be so small, and hidden inside everyday objects) I hoped it was only audio devices that they had plugged in. But I made sure I was aware there could be cameras, and didn’t cavort around naked!

I also sang at the top of my lungs to the radio… just to annoy 'em if they WERE listening!

I guess it just makes you uncomfortable though. I always get a bit embarrassed with even the doorbell ones when I’m in my dressing gown with no make up on. A recent shot had cameras that were apparantly switchef off but how do you know fur sure? I find it weird why people would want cameras in their home.

I think it well might be an honest mistake. People get so used to the setup of their homes and belongings, it’s easy to forget that the camera was there and on. Yours is the charitable and possibly correct response.

I do not want anything ever spying on me. I make phone calls where I might give out passcodes, my SS number, my DOB, my “mother’s maiden name” (I don’t use my mother’s real maiden name, becaseu that also would be foolish) etc. etc., not to mention possibly making calls about medical care. I don’t want to have to worry about any of these things while on a sit.

I work online and am dealing with confidential information. Being secretly recorded would put me in violation of agreements I’ve signed. If I sit somewhere and there is a camera I don’t know about that faces my computer that would be considered a data breach. I have a lot of meetings and if those are being recorded, that means everyone in the meeting is being recorded without their knowledge.

I’m feeling like I may just have to stop sitting. If I can’t trust homeowners to not be recording me, then I can’t do my job.

Hello everyone

It’s been shared by @Snowbird already, but I just wanted to re-share the Camera and Recording Device Policy which clearly states:

  • Owners must disclose the presence of any internal and external cameras or recording devices when creating their home listing.
  • Any internal cameras or recording devices must be disabled for the entire duration of the sit.

It’s unacceptable and against policy for an owner to use cameras or recording devices.

I would encourage anyone who has experienced these being used to report it to THS.

Jenny