Singapore Airlines has reassured passengers that the tiny cameras attached to the in-flight entertainment system on some of its planes are deactivated.
Passenger Vitaly Kamluk called out Singapore’s national carrier on Sunday in a tweet asking for some clarification about these small cameras.
Just found this interesting sensor looking at me from the seat back on board of Singapore Airlines. Any expert opinion of whether this a camera? Perhaps @SingaporeAir could clarify how it is used? pic.twitter.com/vy0usqruZG
— Vitaly Kamluk (@vkamluk) February 17, 2019
“Some of our newer IFE systems provided by the original equipment manufacturers do have a camera provisioned and embedded in the hardware. These cameras have been intended by the manufacturers for future developments. These cameras have been permanently disabled on our aircraft and cannot be activated on board. We have no plans to enable or develop any features using the cameras,” a SIA spokesperson said.
The in-flight entertainment systems installed with a camera are manufactured by Panasonic and Thales, and can be found on the Airbus 350, A-380, Boeing 777-300ER and B 787-10 planes, the airline said.
The same AVANT in-flight entertainment system developed by French aerospace firm Thales has been ordered or installed on more than 1,600 aircraft by major carriers, Thales says on its website.
They include Japan Airlines, Emirates, American Airlines, China Southern and Hainan Airlines.
Some passengers suggested to SIA to cover these cameras for they got the feeling they were being watched. Twitter exploded with various reactions from passengers that are concerned with their privacy during their flights.
This is not the first time that SIA was accused of spying. Its iOS app, among several other apps, may be tracking your taps and swipes without your permission. The apps employ the service of customer experience analytics firm Glassbox, which allows developers to bake something called “session replay” into their apps. Part of Glassbox’s assurance is “always watching, always learning”.