A viral photo showing a camera in a Singapore Airlines in-flight TV display recently caused an uproar online. 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.
Sri Ray was aboard an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight to Tokyo in September 2018 when he noticed something strange: a camera embedded in the seat back of his entertainment system.
“I am what one would call security paranoid,” said Ray, who was formerly a site reliability engineer at BuzzFeed. “I observe tech in day-to-day life and wonder how a malicious person can use it in bad ways. When I looked at the shiny new screens in the new premium economy cabin of AA, I noticed a small circle at the bottom. Upon closer inspection, it was definitely a camera.”
American Airlines spokesperson Ross Feinstein confirmed to BuzzFeed News that cameras are present on some of the airlines’ in-flight entertainment systems, but said “they have never been activated, and American is not considering using them.” Feinstein added, “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.”