United Airlines covers up seat cameras to respond to privacy concerns

Pierluigi Paganini April 29, 2019

United Airlines opted to cover every camera in entertainment systems embedded within the back of plane seats in response to privacy concerns.

Flying on United Airlines planes it is possible to find cameras included in screen and entertainment products used by the airline and mounted in the back of the seats.

“A viral photo showing a camera in a Singapore Airlines in-flight TV display recently caused an uproar online.” reported BuzzFeed. “The image was retweeted hundreds of times, with many people expressing concern about the privacy implications. As it turns out, some seat-back screens in American Airlines’ premium economy class have them, too.”

In response to user privacy concerns, the airline decided to cover every camera in entertainment systems, but pointed out that their purpose was not the surveillance of the passengers.

A company spokesman announced that the cameras will now be covered.

The company explained that the presence of the cameras could open for future applications for business and entertainment (i.e. gaming, video conferencing).

“As with many other airlines, some of our premium seats have in-flight entertainment systems that came with cameras installed by the manufacturer.” reads a United Airlines spokesperson’ statement. “None of these cameras were ever activated and we had no plans to use them in the future, however we took the additional step to cover the cameras. The cameras are a standard feature that manufacturers of the system included for possible future purposes such as video conferencing.” 

The company is using stickers to cover these cameras, even for all new premium seats.

Recently also Singapore Airlines was criticized for the usage of cameras under the screen with the seats pointing to the passengers.

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“These cameras on our newer IFE systems were provided by the original equipment manufacturers,” Singapore Airlines replied. “We have no plans to enable or develop any features using the cameras.”

Passengers and experts fear that facial recognition technology will be widely adopted in commercial aviation, for example, to monitor individuals during the boarding.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – United Airlines, privacy)

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