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Is Your In-Flight Entertainment System Watching You?

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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Many of us rely on in-flight entertainment (IFE) to get us through long transoceanic flights. The convenience of having our favorite shows and movies on hand has become almost a necessity for flights over three hours. But while you are sitting back and watching your IFE system, is there a chance it is watching you?

Recently, a few travelers aboard Singapore Airlines and American Airlines flights noticed small cameras built into their IFE screens, leaving them to wonder if someone was watching or recording them. However, according to the airlines, that’s not the case.

“Cameras are a standard feature on many in-flight entertainment systems used by multiple airlines,” American Airlines commented in a statement to Business Insider. “Manufacturers of those systems have included cameras for possible future uses such as seat-to-seat video conferencing. While these cameras are present on some American Airlines in-flight entertainment systems as delivered from the manufacturer, they have never been activated and American is not considering using them.”

An airline spokesperson for Singapore Airlines issued a similar statement. “Some of our newer IFE systems provided by the original equipment manufacturers do have a camera provisioned and embedded in the hardware. These cameras have been intended by the manufacturers for future developments. These cameras are permanently disabled on our aircraft and cannot be activated on board. We have no plans to enable or develop any features using the cameras.”

Although airlines can select the content on your IFE system, they are not the ones who manufacture the systems. Panasonic manufactures American Airlines’ IFE system and Singapore Airlines systems come from Panasonic and Thales.

It sounds like until they find a use for the in-screen cameras, you can sit back and enjoy your favorite movies and shows knowing that no one is currently spying on you from your IFE system.

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Leah Freeman-Haskin

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