Sun, Feb 24, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Airlines found to have cameras in entertainment sets


Now there is one more place where cameras could start watching you — at 10,000m.

Newer seat-back entertainment systems on some airplanes operated by American Airlines and Singapore Airlines have cameras and it is likely they are also on planes used by other carriers.

American and Singapore both said on Friday that they have never activated the cameras and have no plans to use them.

However, companies that make the entertainment systems are installing cameras to offer future options such as seat-to-seat video conferencing, an American Airlines spokesman said.

A passenger on a Singapore flight last week posted a photograph of a seat-back display and the tweet was shared several hundred times.

The airlines said that they did not add the cameras — manufacturers embedded them in the entertainment systems.

American’s systems are made by Panasonic, while Singapore uses Panasonic and Thales, airline representatives said.

As they shrink, cameras are being built into more devices, including laptops and smartphones.

Seth Miller, a journalist who wrote about the issue in 2017, said that equipment makers probably did not consider the privacy implications.

There were already cameras on planes — although not so intrusive — and the companies assumed that passengers would trade their images for convenience, as they do with facial-recognition technology at immigration checkpoints, Miller said.

“Now they’re facing blowback from a small but vocal group questioning the value of the system that isn’t even active,” Miller said.

American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said that cameras are in “premium economy” seats on 82 Boeing 777 and Airbus A330-200 jets.

“Cameras are a standard feature on many in-flight entertainment systems used by multiple airlines,” he said.

Singapore spokesman James Boyd said that cameras are on 84 Airbus A350s, Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s and 787s.

While the airlines say they have no plans to use the cameras, a Twitter user named Vitaly Kamluk, who snapped the photo of the camera on his Singapore flight, suggested that just to be sure, the carriers should slap stickers over the lenses.

“The cameras are probably not used now, but if they are wired, operational, bundled with mic, it’s a matter of one smart hack to use them on 84+ aircrafts and spy on passengers,” he tweeted.

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