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Cathay Pacific reveals use of onboard cameras to record passenger activity, raising privacy concerns

Author: CNN, Published on: 8 August 2019

“Cathay Pacific reveals its use of onboard cameras”, 6 Aug 2019

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific has revealed it is recording passenger activity on its aircraft via inflight entertainment systems and video cameras, re-opening an uncomfortable debate over surveillance on airplanes.

The carrier… outlined its information gathering in an updated privacy policy published at the end of July 2019.

Cathay confirmed it is collecting images of passengers while they're on board as well as logging their usage of the in-flight entertainment system (IFE) and how they spend time during the flight. The airline says the images are not captured from embedded seat-back cameras.

"In line with standard practice and to protect our customers and frontline staff, there are CCTV cameras installed in our airport lounges and onboard aircraft (one camera, positioned near the cockpit door) for security purposes," a spokesperson for Cathay Pacific told CNN Travel. "All images are handled sensitively with strict access controls. There are no CCTV cameras installed in the lavatories."

Earlier in 2018, multiple airlines confirmed that cameras were installed in their entertainment systems, sparking widespread privacy concerns. Airlines including Singapore Airlines, Emirates and American said they had no plans to activate the cameras…

In its privacy policy, the airline says the data collection is designed to improve the flying experience with additional personalization. The airline also says data could be shared with third-party partners for marketing purposes…

Vitaly Kamuk, a cybersecurity expert… [said] "The true risk comes from potential unauthorized access to these devices from powerful malicious attackers. As far as IFE is connected to the Internet, there is a possibility of remote hack and espionage if such devices can be activated in software,"…

Panasonic Avionics, which supplies some IFE systems for Cathay Pacific, has previously said fears of surveillance and privacy breach are "a bit of an overreaction." …

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Related companies: American Airlines Cathay Pacific Panasonic Singapore Airlines