New Privacy Controversy – Cathay Pacific Accused Of Monitoring Onboard Passengers

A new form of breach of privacy and concerns about it emerged after the Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific revealed that it regularly conducts monitoring of its passengers through onboard cameras on its aircraft.

According to Cathay, the aim of gathering of the footage of passengers via a number of cameras positioned all around its aircraft is for ensuring security and for “security purpose”.

This was revealed in an updated privacy policy which was announced by the airline through its publishing of the policy at the end of July and in that policy Cathay said that it has been collecting footage of passengers while they were on board and had been secretly recording such footage in order to monitor their usage of the in-flight entertainment system of the aircraft.

“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 for security purposes,” Cathay Pacific said in a statement to the media.

There was no other response from the company after the issue drew criticism from privacy advocates neither any details were revealed by the company about the specific positions in the crafts that the cameras were installed. The company however said in a statement that “there are no CCTV cameras installed in the lavatories” or in their in-flight entertainment systems (IFEs).

It was just months ago that it was revealed that the IFE systems of a number of airlines have cameras installed inside them. However at that time when the news was revealed, a number of airlines including American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Emirates, had pledged that no plans of activating the cameras existed.

However at that time, Cathay Pacific had announced that no cameras had ever been installed in the IFEs on its crafts. “Our inflight entertainment systems do not have any cameras, microphones or sensors to monitor passengers, nor have they in the past,” it said in the statement.

This is however not the first time that the airline, that is often considered by many to be among the best in the world, has been pulled up and criticized over privacy issues. More than nine million of its passengers were potentially affected by a data breach in the airline which was reported by Cathay in October 2018.

Improvement of the flying experience of its customer and enabling greater personalization were the aims of the company behind its data collection process, the airline said in its updated privacy policy. The airline however also mentioned in the policy that it might share the collected data with third parties for better marketing strategies.

“We will retain your personal data for as long as is necessary,” the policy says.

(Adapted from

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