These days, it seems every tech gadget from iPhones to smart TV remotes to Amazon’s Echo is listening to our every word. Trading our privacy for a teaspoon of added convenience might seem worth it, of course — right up until the day the machines take over. Now, one of Asia’s largest airlines has confirmed that it’s actively snooping on passengers.
Earlier this year, numerous airlines, including American, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines confirmed the installation of cameras in their seatback IFE systems. All were quick to note that the cameras are not active and that they had no plans to use them in the future. The technology is purportedly built in to provide future enhancements like in-flight video conferencing. According to a Cathay Pacific spokesperson, the airline’s own IFEs are unable to monitor passengers’ behavior through cameras or microphones.
Panasonic Avionics, the manufacturer of IFEs for many of the world’s largest airlines, has dismissed any related privacy concerns as “a bit of an overreaction.” The company’s chief technology officer went on to say that, “The case to be made for positive benefits coming from cameras is stronger than any concern that they could possibly be used for nefarious purposes.” That reassurance is cold comfort to the millions of users affected by the steady stream of data breaches — most notably Equifax and Capital One — reported in just the last two years.
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