You need not worry about flight attendants or airline executives surreptitiously recording you while you eat dinner or sleep in your seat…well, at least using IFE cameras.
There has been a surprising outpour of fear and anger over the discovery that late-model IFE systems often come with built-in cameras. Many have expressed outrage over such a “privacy violation” and a bipartisan duo of U.S. Senators has introduced legislation–yes, legislation–to prohibit airlines from spying on passengers via seatback cameras.
The senators’ proposed bill is entitled the Passenger Privacy Protection Act of 2019 — and advocates that any IFE that’s installed on future aircraft may not have an embedded camera or microphone.As for the existing cameras on airplanes, the Act proposes that the lenses should be removed, permanently disabled and covered or covered “in a fashion that prevents the camera from making any observations.
But it’s really much ado about nothing. Airlines, at least in the USA, are not using the cameras to mine for data. In fact, these airlines have no desire to invest in the technology necessary to make the use of camera possible. Seat-to-seat video calling and the ability for multi-person “gaming” require internet speeds beyond current capacities.
United Airlines Physically Disables Cameras Already Turned Off
This story first “broke” with Singapore Airlines, but has spread to United Airlines since the carrier’s latest Polaris Business Class cabin has cameras built into the IFE screens at each seat.
To assuage concerns, United is covering each camera physically.
As with many other airlines, some of our premium seats have in-flight entertainment systems that came with cameras installed by the manufacturer. 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.
Now the cameras are deactivated and covered. You can rest again…
It cracks me up that people focus on the IFE screens when Singapore Airlines has prominent cameras to monitor its cabins in-flight. The picture below was taken aboard an A380 Singapore flight from New York to Frankfurt.
Those are the true “threat” (if you want to call it that…)
Or maybe we are all just being a bit too paranoid?