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These Airlines Are Covering Seatback Cameras to Address Privacy Concerns

Privacy is a huge and justifiable concern as of late. Smart TVs, phones, Amazon Alexa devices, social media platforms, and more know your face, your shopping habits, and the kinds of content you want to see. Recently, air travelers feared the...

Privacy is a huge and justifiable concern as of late. Smart TVs, phones, Amazon Alexa devices, social media platforms, and more know your face, your shopping habits, and the kinds of content you want to see. Recently, air travelers feared the worst when they discovered tiny cameras in the seat-back entertainment units on airplanes.

In response to the concerns, United Airlines and Delta have decided to cover the cameras, according to a report by BuzzFeed News. Small black stickers have been placed over the cameras on some of United’s planes, and a spokesperson for the airline said it “will continue to cover cameras as it adds premium seats on additional aircraft.”

Delta also vowed to cover the cameras. In a statement to Gizmodo, a spokesperson said the inactive cameras were on “a limited number of Delta in-flight entertainment screens.” The cameras are not being activated, but Delta said it plans to cover the cameras to ease the minds of future passengers.

“Though Delta does not have plans to install the necessary software to use them, we have added covers as a visible way to reassure customers,” the statement said.

The cameras aren’t unique to United Airlines and Delta. They were also spotted on American Airlines and Singapore Airlines by a Twitter user in February. Both airlines confirmed at the time that the cameras were included with off-the-shelf parts from manufacturers and were never used.

In a statement, a spokesperson for American Airlines said the cameras were included in the inflight entertainment systems to allow for “possible future uses, such as hand gestures to control inflight entertainment.” That technology hasn’t been implemented, so both airlines opted to disable cameras. Still, passengers were understandably wary about their presence.

The airline told Gizmodo in a statement it was “reviewing” the situation, and noted once again that the cameras “have never been activated and American is not considering using them.”

Active or not, seatback cameras do pose a privacy risk to all who fly. Cameras attached to connected devices have the potential to be hacked. No need to panic, however. Internet-connected devices like laptops and phones are way more likely to be hacked than airline systems.

Hopefully, covering the cameras will ease privacy concerns among travelers. Flying isn’t exactly the most private mode of transportation as it is. The last thing you need is an extra set of eyes on you.


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Caitlyn Hitt is Daria IRL. Don't take our word for it -- find her on Twitter @nyltiaccc.