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Singapore Airlines A350 (photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Singapore Airlines)

SIA criticised for secret seat cameras

Singapore Airlines is trying to diffuse a social media storm over the seatback cameras, which it insists are disabled and can’t be turned on.

Singapore Airlines is trying to calm the turbulence of a media and social media storm over the discovery of cameras embedded into its inflight entertainment system.

The airline is assuring passengers that the cameras have been disabled ever since they were installed, the Straits Times and TTG Asia report.

Travellers took to Twitter and other social media sites to publicise what they thought looked like cameras peeking at them from below the seatback screens on the carrier’s newer planes.

“Just found this interesting sensor looking at me from the seat back on board of Singapore Airlines. Any expert opinion of whether is a camera?” passenger Vitaly Kamluk queried in a tweet together with photos.

Other social media users sounded the alarm over possible privacy violations, with one user speculating it was possible the airline was using the cameras to collect data on passenger habits.

The aircraft with the embedded cameras include SIA’s Airbus A350-900s, deployed on medium-haul, long-haul and ultra-long-range routes, A380s, Boeing 777-300ERs and 787-10s, the Straits Times says – or 84 of the carrier’s 122 aircraft in total.

“Cannot be activated”
The airline explains that the cameras were built into the hardware and were provided by the equipment manufacturer, which intended to use the device “for future developments”. It stressed it has no plans to enable the cameras.

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

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