Is American Airlines Using Seat Cameras To Spy On You?

They’re not the only airline with cameras installed in seats.

Does American Airlines Have Another United Situation on Its Hands?
(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)
By Chase Hill / February 23, 2019 5:00 am

A recent viral photo shared on Twitter of the back of a seat on a Singapore Airlines in-flight TV reveals seat cameras pointing at the passengers, raising concerns about customer privacy.

What people forgot is that American Airlines also has cameras in the backs of some of their seats. A review of the airline’s economy offering was published in 2017 and mentioned the seat cameras.

Both airlines claim they purchase the in-flight entertainment systems from manufactures who already have the camera installed within the unit.

“They have never been activated, and American is not considering using them,” Ross Feinstein, an American Airlines spokesperson, told Buzzfeed News. “Cameras are a standard feature on many in-flight entertainment systems used by multiple airlines. Manufacturers of those systems have included cameras for possible future uses, such as hand gestures to control in-flight entertainment.”

Singapore Airlines also saw the tweet and responded. “We would like to share that some of our newer in-flight entertainment systems provided by the original equipment manufacturers do have a camera embedded in the hardware,” the company said. “These cameras have been disabled on our aircraft, and there are no plans to develop any features using the cameras.”

Although the cameras have been disabled, it still raises questions about digital privacy and how much transparency we deserve from manufacturers. It was recently revealed that a child’s Barbie doll could be hacked and that Google’s new Assistant was being added to the company’s alarm system, which customers were surprised to learn already had a microphone installed in the unit.

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