Singapore Airlines says it isn’t spying on passengers, but concerned people say they’d prefer if the ‘disabled’ cameras were covered

Passengers in the Business class on SQ8898.
The Straits Times

The next time you’re on a Singapore Airlines flight you might notice a small camera lens staring squarely at you from the in-flight entertainment screen directly in front of you. If you do, there’s no need to worry because those cameras aren’t working, Singapore Airlines (SIA) has said.

SIA had provided the clarification after Twitter user Vitaly Kamluk shared photos of the camera, and asked the airline to explain how it is used.

A spokesman for SIA told Business Insider that the cameras are in-built into some of its newer in-flight entertainment systems by the equipment manufacturer, but that these cameras have been “permanently disabled” for the commercial aircraft.

“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,” the spokesman said.

“These cameras have been permanently disabled on our aircraft and cannot be activated on board. We have no plans to enable or develop any features using the cameras,” the representative added.

The airline also provided a response to the Twitter user, who thanked it for the clarification, but suggested that “it’s best to disable these cameras physically until you decide to use them, i.e. with a simple sticker”.

Other Twitter users also pushed for SIA to do something more to ensure the privacy of passengers.

A user with the handle @cybersharpaware wrote: “Not cool @singaporeair not cool at all. Doesn’t matter what you say, those cameras need to be physically covered if they are ‘disabled’, as you say.”

Another,‏ @CyberSquarePeg, refered to the possibility of hacking by writing: “Don’t worry… either way you are safe. No one would ever get in and turn them back on. Silly silly. #sarcasm #privacy”

One user‏ @Trayset said the cameras were “unacceptable”, and called the situation “really bad”. “You say the cameras are “disabled”. How do we know?” he asked.

One‏ @MikeRodriquez also suggested putting tape or paint over the lens. “Put tape or paint over the lens, then we will know for sure. Otherwise, presume they are on. Corporations do lie, without penalty, so you may as well presume the worst,” he wrote.

Some netizens took a milder stance.‏ @Encore45158090 wrote: “Problem is they’ve probably ordered most things straight from manufacture- meaning they have no control over if the camera is there or not. Safest method to keep your privacy at this point is bring a peice of black tape with you, or alternatively a band aid.”

‏ @AT1ST also asked if a tape over the camera would really resolve the concerns: “In their defense, tape wouldn’t ensure the microphone part couldn’t be activated as I understand?”

And at least one person didn’t seem to mind the cameras all that much. @securequali wrote: “They will have several hours of me snoring and picking my nose.”