BREAKING NEWS Kenneth Pitts sentenced for his involvement in 2018 death of Anita Oswald Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Airplane seat cameras: US senators demand answers

Concerns about cameras fitted to airplane seats have prompted two US senators to demand that airlines clarify how the devices are used.Senator Jeff Me...

Posted: Mar 19, 2019 9:06 AM

Concerns about cameras fitted to airplane seats have prompted two US senators to demand that airlines clarify how the devices are used.

Senator Jeff Merkley -- the Oregon Democrat who recently announced his decision not to run for presidency in 2020 -- and Republican John Kennedy, from Louisiana, have written a bipartisan letter to several major airlines requesting answers.

The letter was in response to CNN Travel reporting on the issue after malware researcher Vitaly Kamluk tweeted Singapore Airlines when he spotted what appeared to be a camera lens built into an inflight entertainment (IFE) screen.

Singapore and other airlines contacted about the devices have denied using them to monitor passengers.

Tech experts, however, have raised concerns about whether the cameras could be hacked.

"While Americans have an expectation that they are monitored in airports as a necessary security measure, the notion that in-flight cameras may monitor passengers while they sleep, eat, or have private conversations is troubling," the senators' letter says.

"Further, in light of data breaches that have impacted many major airlines, we have misgivings that cameras or sensors may not employ the necessary security measures to prevent them from being targeted by cybercriminals."

The senators have addressed their letter to the CEOs of American carriers Delta, Southwest, Frontier, United, Spirit, American, JetBlue and Alaska Air. They ask each airline to answer a series of questions about the existence of the seat back cameras.

The congressmen want to know whether each airline uses cameras to monitor passengers, under what circumstances the cameras could be activated and whether passengers are informed of this practice.

All the airlines contacted by CNN Travel in early March said the cameras are dormant.

'Standard feature'

American Airlines told CNN Travel in early March that cameras are "a standard feature," but not activated and that the carrier has no plans to use them.

"These cameras have been intended by the manufacturers for future developments," said Singapore Airlines, in a statement provided to CNN Travel earlier in March. "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."

Nevertheless, the senators remain concerned and have requested further information -- describing the potential use of undisclosed cameras as "a serious breach of privacy."

Merkley and Kennedy also demand "comprehensive data on the number of cameras and sensors" and "the type of information that is collected or recorded."

They've requested a response from the contacted airlines within 30 days.

While it wasn't a commonly known fact that many airline IFEs contain deactivated cameras exist in airline IFEs -- it was by no means a secret.

For example, at the 2017 Dubai Airshow, Panasonic Avionics announced the latest incarnation of Emirates' IFE in First Class and Economy -- specifying it featured a camera, plus a microphone and speaker.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 53°
Robinson
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 52°
Indianapolis
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 53°
Rockville
Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 52°
Casey
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 51°
Brazil
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 53°
Marshall
Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 53°
Cloudy and Cool
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1677939

Reported Deaths: 27996
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63537311208
DuPage1083221378
Will913951127
Lake801071088
Kane68469872
Winnebago41117561
Madison40130597
St. Clair36293598
McHenry34762330
Champaign27034197
Peoria26956368
Sangamon25767287
McLean23033219
Tazewell20666331
Rock Island18872361
Kankakee17943249
Kendall16221113
Macon15321251
LaSalle15052287
Vermilion14418201
Adams13167152
DeKalb12169134
Williamson12069174
Whiteside8307183
Jackson809394
Boone794883
Coles7895124
Ogle757989
Grundy739486
Franklin7335115
Knox7297169
Clinton7129102
Macoupin6965106
Marion6929144
Henry664277
Effingham6618100
Jefferson6561143
Livingston598498
Stephenson585493
Woodford577192
Randolph5560100
Christian535682
Fulton527376
Monroe5252103
Morgan5079100
Logan495374
Montgomery491881
Lee478960
Bureau443191
Saline434469
Perry433775
Fayette431264
Iroquois421777
McDonough374161
Shelby348748
Jersey336253
Lawrence333433
Crawford333230
Douglas328137
Union307248
Wayne304363
Richland280057
White280033
Hancock274035
Clark266540
Cass266330
Pike265258
Edgar260149
Clay259254
Bond257425
Ford245659
Warren244266
Carroll236838
Moultrie235733
Johnson228832
Wabash217219
Jo Daviess216129
Massac215850
Mason214452
Washington212528
De Witt206230
Greene205340
Mercer204736
Piatt202314
Cumberland190226
Menard172313
Jasper161321
Marshall141521
Hamilton134122
Schuyler108310
Brown106610
Edwards104218
Pulaski104212
Stark81628
Gallatin7889
Alexander72512
Scott7126
Henderson70614
Calhoun6932
Hardin60616
Putnam5654
Pope5536
Unassigned1622433
Out of IL130

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 1005797

Reported Deaths: 16449
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1353572119
Lake663011164
Allen57820801
Hamilton46296464
St. Joseph44311613
Elkhart35888509
Vanderburgh32214480
Tippecanoe27898258
Johnson25056445
Hendricks23854359
Porter22890365
Madison18724409
Clark18540252
Vigo17449303
Monroe15242199
LaPorte15124250
Delaware15043261
Howard14719289
Kosciusko12285147
Hancock11709175
Bartholomew11602180
Warrick11287189
Floyd11082215
Wayne10965253
Grant10051220
Morgan9457176
Boone8913116
Dubois8263131
Dearborn820893
Henry8200152
Noble8017106
Marshall7916135
Cass7528121
Lawrence7447171
Shelby7176119
Jackson697289
Gibson6584115
Harrison647591
Knox6418106
Huntington6385100
DeKalb630699
Montgomery6252110
Miami592298
Putnam580078
Clinton574971
Whitley564255
Steuben560676
Wabash5324104
Jasper529879
Jefferson510297
Ripley499886
Adams481576
Daviess4670114
Scott438574
Greene424496
Wells423088
Clay422060
White418164
Decatur4164102
Fayette406187
Jennings386661
Posey376644
LaGrange357678
Washington357651
Randolph344499
Spencer339543
Fountain334760
Sullivan328652
Starke316470
Owen314170
Fulton309467
Orange293564
Jay284145
Franklin265443
Perry265352
Rush261332
Carroll261133
Vermillion257754
Parke231126
Pike228843
Tipton227559
Blackford192642
Pulaski183457
Crawford159223
Newton157848
Benton150217
Brown146147
Martin138219
Switzerland134911
Warren121016
Union107016
Ohio84513
Unassigned0540