On February 17, traveler Vitaly Kamluk shared a photo of a camera embedded in his seat-back entertainment system on a Singapore Airlines flight.
— Vitaly Kamluk (@vkamluk) February 17, 2019
"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?" Kamluk tweeted.
"The cameras are probably not used now," he tweeted. "But if they are wired, operational, bundled with mic, it's a matter of one smart hack to use them on 84+ aircrafts and spy on passengers," Kamluk added.
Although Singapore Airlines was quick to admit that it does have cameras on its planes in a tweet, the company clarified that "there are no plans to develop any features using the cameras" in a tweet.
— Singapore Airlines (@SingaporeAir) February 19, 2019
In fact, the airline claims that entertainment consoles with cameras were purchased from in-flight entertainment manufacturers such as Panasonic and Thales and were thus not intentionally designed by the airline to include cameras.
"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…. These cameras have been disabled on our aircraft, and there are no plans to develop any features using the cameras," the airline said in a recent statement to BuzzFeed News.
However, Singapore Airlines is not alone in having the potential to turn its lenses on individual passengers.
American and United Airlines have also recently admitted that some of their planes are equipped with cameras.
In a recent statement to BuzzFeed News, American Airlines spokesperson Ross Feinstein stated that cameras are present on some of the airlines' in-flight entertainment systems, but "they have never been activated, and American is not considering using them."
"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," Feinstein added.
Panasonic Avionics, which designs and sells customized in-flight entertainment systems to airlines worldwide, announced in a 2017 press release that it was examining how eye-tracking, gesture control and voice command control technologies could be used to improve passengers' in-flight entertainment experiences
American and Singapore Airlines did not immediately respond to Sputnik's request for comment.