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American Airlines Has Cameras in Their Screens Too (buzzfeednews.com)
224 points by sricola 61 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 223 comments



They already take a high resolution back scatter shot of my genitals on the way in, what's a little more humiliation among friends? If they want to spend 6 hours watching me make pained expressions as I shift and turn and feel the bits that make me human slowly slip away, leaving me a crippled, grunting inhuman beast by the time I get out of the aluminum can full of other peoples farts, I guess they are welcome to it.


For all the crap we give China and their authoritarian government, airport security is FAR easier at every Chinese airport I've been to. Walk through a metal detector and get a quick non-invasive pat down.


When you've already locked down your citizens, control all guns, and record their wrongthink in databases linked to credit and their livelihoods, there's probably less danger at any one point.

Hell there aren't mass shootings in China either. Again, authoritarians often cite Order as the result of just giving in to their oppressive tactics.


There certainly are mass stabbings though...


> For all the crap we give China and their authoritarian government, airport security is FAR easier at every Chinese airport I've been to. Walk through a metal detector and get a quick non-invasive pat down.

flying domestically I had my eyes scanned and thumb print taken, and was tracked more or less everywhere I went.

Are you arguing this is a good thing?


Not in my experience. Felt about the same as US security, with one major difference being they made you take all electronics with cords out, such as phone chargers. This was both for international and domestic china flights.


Yeah really. I've gone through security with pretty big knives by accident and gotten "啊!你的水果刀" "your fruit knife", and it was apologetically confiscated with little hassle. Although I'm sure stereotyping (white skin not poor) worked positively in my favor. While in the US, for example, I go through with cup of demonstrably potable liquid and have to do some petty compliance exercise like take a walk around the terminal and wait in line to be screened by the same person again. I think it might have do do with rule by law vs rule of law


I hve never been to China but in my experience american airport security and immigration is nasty as compared to other perfectly free and democratic countries.


In my experience, the absolute worst immigration and airport security is found in the US and the UK. I've never been so harassed, and i'm a US citizen and a generic looking white guy. Can't imagine how bad it would be if I wasn't.


Never had a problem in US, but had few nightmares in Spain and Germany. 30 mins "detentions" for extra screening.


Try doing that as a Uyghur


I think you'll find that you're mistaken about any difference you think that would make. Please step this way for re-education.


I've yet to go through any of these machines since they were implemented. I have opted out every flight, every time.


In that case they don't have a picture, but they do know what they feel like, and if they don't, it just takes one ornery TSA agent for it to happen.

It's a thoroughly miserable process no matter what way you slice it.


I just don't go in with a toxic mindset and have never had a bad experience.

I'd rather not feel negatively for no reason, because it hurts me and doesn't help me in any way. Maybe you have a better reason to go through life unhappily, but I don't.


"You know what, I'm looking forward to having my privacy violated! I hope they stop me for packing some cookies in my carry on!"


I don't think anything when I'm going through airport security. It's literally the same experience as checking out at a grocery store. Wait a few minutes then walk through the xray. Do you go into grocery stores with the same toxic mindset?

"You know what, I'm looking forward to this wage slave touching my credit card. I hope they can't scan one of my items and I have to go put it back."

It's possible to be a nasty person in any situation. It never helps you. Your mindset causes you pain and you can literally choose not to do that.


The beatings will continue until morale improves.


I need to fly on st patricks so I have excuse to wear one my tac kilts. Fun for everyone!


good for you. i respect your conviction, and think you are doing a principled thing.


I don't have an input on the potential security risks of pen cameras on airlines, but I do have an opinion on your description of economy travel on modern airlines.

It's spot on, and unbelievable to me that there are no other options available for air travel. With the amount of time business executives spend in the air I have to imagine there is an airline company out there modeling the business case for increased ticket prices with the justification of companies subsidizing to make up for lost productivity.

- written from the 3rd flight I've taken this week


> with the justification of companies subsidizing to make up for lost productivity.

It's not just productivity - after a 6 hour flight starting from midnight, I have no idea how people are allowed to drive. I hear complaints about "why do people stand up immediately when the plane lands?" - I stand up so that I'll have enough feeling in my leg that I can actually walk off the plane by the time the doors open. Every bit of you is reduced by the time you're clumping off that airplane.


To me this is just a distraction. Yes there's a hardware camera. I will bet some money that they have not been used nefariously by AA or SQ. Some are raging about the non-existant theoretical privacy violation (again, not 100% non-existant, but I will bet money there's no surveillance through this camera), meanwhile we are ignoring actual privacy violations being done by e.g. Facebook or Twitter, or the millions of ad networks (which that webpage has too, btw).

One might say "But what about hackers?", luckily unlike Alexa or Google Home, it's hard for hackers to tinker with one these devices and find remotely-triggerable exploits.


I don't know, there are literal spy agencies out there(like people getting trained to extract information, being paid to do things etc.).

Would be very convenient for them if there were "unused" microphones and cameras everywhere and just tap the one when they need it.

What makes you think that people with full time jobs and careers based on obtaining private information would not be interested in listening to their targets who are sitting on a chair next to their business partner/colleague for hours?


> Yes there's a hardware camera. I will bet some money that they have not been used nefariously

Talk about the tag line for the past decade.


Indeed, I am far more discomforted by the "Google snuck a microphone into products it sold consumers and placed in their homes" than "very visible cameras exist in airplanes which are already operating between the most heavily camera-covered facilities on the planet".

And AA can fix this with stickers. Occasionally a kid will peel one off, but nobody will really care.


> One might say "But what about hackers?", luckily unlike Alexa or Google Home, it's hard for hackers to tinker with one these devices and find remotely-triggerable exploits.

Yes, very hard for people with skills, indeed.

https://thehackernews.com/2016/12/hacking-in-flight-system.h...

https://www.wired.com/2015/05/feds-say-banned-researcher-com...

https://ioactive.com/in-flight-hacking-system/


meanwhile we are ignoring actual privacy violations being done by e.g. Facebook or Twitter, or the millions of ad networks

I'm not sure who you think is ignoring these issues. They're in the mainstream news, and on HN almost every day.


>>I will bet some money that they have not been used nefariously by AA or SQ.

not yet

Given the last 20 years of bad behavior from tech companies overall, and the steady erosion of privacy in nearly all quarters, I question your confidence and must ask "based on what?"


Based on my belief that developing software for it would not be cheap (hello, contractors), and that I don't see a use case how it could make more money for the airline (fine maybe I'm just not creative enough).

They could have analytics that say "Passenger X (profile: male, paid with a platinum credit card, flew 5 times in the last 6 months) watched movie Y for 40 minutes before looking up the price for the WiFi connectivity and deciding against it (pressing Cancel) after 2 minutes. Passenger turned off the display and only turned it on again 2 hours later at 9:45 PM (the flight attendants started serving food at 9:40 PM), suggesting the passenger slept until they started serving dinner.", but for that they don't need a camera, they can just use analytics software that already monitor your activity inside mobile apps.


>Based on my belief that developing software for it would not be cheap (hello, contractors)

It would be extremely cheap, that's why they chose android based tablets in the first place and the government has deep enough pockets to try to break TLS. Developing an app that records a video to storage is completely trivial.


AA isn’t a tech company. There revenue isn’t based on selling eyeballs.


Those in seat screens have advertisements on them you know.


Don't forget the brainwash about their company they make you watch while you're strapped into a seat with nowhere else to look.


They can always diversify and milk out even more money out of their customers.


To exit plane, PLEASE DRINK VERIFICATION CAN


I think the more important point here is the normalisation happening.

> More and more devices have cameras built into them. From smartphones to tablets to Alexa-powered smart speakers, cameras have become the norm, rather than the exception, for most hardware

From a tech side, I can understand the coolness factor of equipping all your devices with microphones and cameras - however, even though this particular example didn't do much, I think we're i for a lot of risks if this trend continued.


> unlike Alexa or Google Home, it's hard for hackers to tinker with one these devices and find remotely-triggerable exploits.

I took this 13-second video on when the flight I was on last year rebooted the in-flight entertainment system upon landing. I sat there for an hour with an opportunity to poke around the menus.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/mVKBumqkwPMewWLV6


Is it that hard? I've seen one get stuck on an Ubuntu boot screen (of a 5+ year old Ubuntu version, no less) with messages about loading MySQL.

I mean, at least they weren't using Win98, but that's a pretty low bar.


If the hardware exists, and just because it is likely disabled (or not utilized) in software by the airlines, does not mean it cannot be enabled by a nefarious actor.

Security researchers have shown it is possible to gain access to the on-board computer systems:

https://thehackernews.com/2016/12/hacking-in-flight-system.h...

https://thehackernews.com/2014/08/airplanes-can-be-hacked-th...

And one man appears to have elevated that access to actually control the plane:

https://www.wired.com/2015/05/feds-say-banned-researcher-com...

https://www.cnn.com/2015/05/17/us/fbi-hacker-flight-computer...

So, no, I don't think this is a distraction whatsoever. We have the capacity to cover both of these issues.


Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. It is highly unlikely that 'controlling the plane' is even possible.

All we have is a word from some dude. A very irresponsible one, if his claims are true.


> meanwhile we are ignoring actual privacy violations being done by e.g. Facebook or Twitter, or the millions of ad networks (which that webpage has too, btw).

Oh, I don't think we're ignoring those things.


If no one opposes the cameras then they will be added to every aircraft by default. They're just a distraction after all! When those cameras are everywhere, suddenly someone (most likely the government) will turn them on. No one will realize. They're just a distraction after all...


> meanwhile we are ignoring actual privacy violations being done by e.g. Facebook or Twitter, or the millions of ad networks

This is becoming a form of digital whataboutism and false equivalence. I can't read comments about seatback airline cameras without being reminded of these other "violations" as though they are related. Maybe the collective "we" are ignoring them because "we" don't consider them privacy violations or just don't care, despite the fact that those bombarding us want us to.


I'm always torn on whataboutism. On one hand, yes, these are all problems that should be addressed, and you shouldn't dismiss one just because there are some worse problems elsewhere.

But I think a lot of what we sometimes label whataboutism is just people marveling how people in general are just so terrible at risk assessment that they'll latch onto minimal-risk items and get outraged about them, while at the same time engaging in higher-risk activities in the same context.

But there's also the fact that the "what about"-er has no idea what the parent poster is concerned with; saying they're "ignoring actual privacy violations being done by e.g. Facebook or Twitter, or the millions of ad networks" might be entirely false. Maybe they're concerned about both things.


> I'm always torn on whataboutism

I'd say there's a difference between idly attempting to gain perspective/compare, and dismissing/shaming the original content and its interested receivers via contrast. The latter is the problem, especially when it's framed as a mutually exclusive option between the primary subject and the contrasted subject, as though there is a fixed maximum of concern that can be had.


You being willing to bet money gives me little confidence.


I'm not sure what you're trying to convey with your comment.

Do you have reason to believe otherwise? If so, you should take the bet. Otherwise, readers have no reason to believe someone who isn't willing to put their money over their mouth is, over someone who is. Especially if you don't even bother to give reasons for your belief.


Most of these are just COTS Android tablets. When they reboot the IFE, you sometimes see the Android soft home/menu button on the bottom.

It's easy enough to repair, too -- just apply some opaque tape to the camera.


> Most of these are just COTS Android tablets

This isn't quite true. They're not off-the-shelf (COTS) Android tablets - the hardware is custom, especially in terms of industrial design (although the chipset is pretty standard). IFE manufacturers aren't going to OEMs and re-purposing commercial tablet designs.

You couldn't use off-the-shelf tablets anyway, because they have lithium batteries in them - and whilst the form factors might work for economy seating, in business and first class you often see very large units, larger than any tablet available today. IFE systems also need a much wider variety of I/O than "consumer" Android tablets provide.

There are also requirements vis a vis safety and impact that make commercial tablets unsuitable. For example, the display is usually made of plastic rather than glass, since these units have to survive a lot of abuse.

Some example components from one of the two big manufacturers: https://www.panasonic.aero/inflight-systems/x-series/key-com...

Source: I worked in the IFE industry when they were transitioning from Linux based systems over to Android. One of the primary drivers for doing so was software, rather than hardware.


I worked with commercial embedded Android devices and they were literally internal circuit boards for Chinese off-the-shelf consumer Android tablets with the battery ripped out and a metal frame.

The boards still had markings for the tablet parts and even reported themselves as some random consumer tablet you can find on Alibaba over ADB.

Not much of a difference from an end-user perspective

And for those wondering, we also got cameras for "free" depending on the model. It's not that we needed a camera, but some screen sizes already came with a camera embedded in the screen and their pricing was not out of line with the ones that didn't have cameras so we'd get them for other reasons.


Thank you for the more detailed explanation!

But if this is custom hardware then somebody must have wanted these cameras on there? To what end?


> But if this is custom hardware then somebody must have wanted these cameras on there?

I mean, the explanation could be as simple as "it's semi-custom hardware with the minimum number of changes from a commercial tablet". In that case, it has a camera for the same reason brown sugar is refined sugar with molasses added back in: it's cheaper to stay on the path of high volume as much as possible.

Of course, it could also be a more nefarious explanation. Short of mass surveillance by the government, I can't think of one: it's not like the airlines don't know exactly who is in which seat.


> larger than any tablet available today.

Not any tablet - I refer you to the 18" Samsung Galaxy View.


Indeed. What's interesting is that they used to be Linux tablets (i.e. non-Android) but newer generations have all been Android.

I'm guessing economies of scale precipitated the move. It has also come with a significant improvement in touch screen quality which is welcomed (the old Linux based ones had resistive screens).


I think part of this is exonolies of scale, but also the basis of how much faster/cheaper it is to build/maintain an Android-based interface is my thought.

Delta and GoGo just launched a “wireless IFE” on the new A220 that is basically just a customized Android tablet sucking down/streaming the IFE stuff from a server either in the back of the plane or from satellites using the 2k WiFi system (likely the server on the plane, but admittedly I haven’t looked into the tech specifics), which is designed to be modular for this reason.

Plus, if you’re not reliant on the IFE boxes under the seats (which the Linux/BusyBox units were), you can do a lot of the processing and serving and network stuff on the device rather than having to have those outated and expensive to upgrade computers in each row. Probably just a cheap to get a capricituve screen 10” tablet screen with a Mediatek quad-core professor and 2GB of RAM as if would be to get one “naked” too.


Using WiFi would be very surprising for most content, but it would be interesting to have live TV on aircraft.


Using WiFi would be very surprising for most content, but it would be interesting to have live TV on aircraft.

There are a few airlines with live TV. I think Southwest and JetBlue, but I could be wrong because mostly I sleep on planes.


Just realised I said WiFi here. Yeah the in built WiFi network isn't what would be surprising but using satellite internet would be. Streaming from a cache on the plane, that makes a lot of sense.

I kinda fancy the idea of Netflix partnering with an airline to offer the IFE, wonder if that will ever ever happen.


How so? United's IFE is an app you install on your phone/tablet or website you use on your laptop to watch media and it's all wifi.


But it’s not clear if that comes from a local cache on the plane or if it uses the actual uplink. I doubt it’s the latter because a satellite connection isn’t going to support 300 concurrent video streams.


Delta has live tv but I think it comes in from a non-WiFi path because it seems to come and independently of the WiFi service.


It's definitely satellite TV. Some planes have been outfitted with it since JetBlue debuted it in like 2000.


Yup, it's satellite TV. JetBlue pioneered it (and Delta started it with their JetBlue competitor Song in the early '00s IIRC) and some other carriers have it too.

JetBlue uses the NYC satellite feed for its local stations (FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC) and I think Delta's might rotate (it's def not the local Atlanta stations) and like satellite, if weather is bad/obstructed, your live TV sucks/goes out.


Emirates has live TV. Granted it's limited but it's there.


I appreciate your use of the word "repair" in this instance.


Yup, most of them are Android tablets and I believe all the media that is served is stored on a central server via SQLlite on the aircraft.

Knew someone that worked for a company that builds those in flight experiences, and that's where everyone would get their dump of "insert airline" watermarked movies for the month.


What's a good translucent thing to apply in case the brightness is auto-adjusting based on camera light?


I currently use translucent tape on my phone camera, which works well enough. I have to replace it quite often, though, because it is much more fragile than the electrical tape I have on my laptop.


scotch tape


What seems more likely to me is just that the frames they put these things in cover the cameras anyway.


Some of them allow you to get to the home/menu button by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.


I assume that means they have a mic as well.


I mean, I'm a big fan of privacy but I consider an airline cabin to be a pretty public place.

I'm already used to security cameras in pretty much every public building I walk in...

...can anyone think of something nefarious that could be done with these cameras?

The only possible "threat" I can think of would be to eavesdrop on someone's laptop/conversation for potential business secrets or otherwise, but the cameras are pointed at someone's face (not screen) and no mention is made of a microphone... although planes used to have those phones (obviously with a microphone) in them for many years.

And in any case, a commercial flight is probably not the best place to be discussing top-secret info anyways.


If Facebook paid the airlines a dollar per flight to be able to study your facial expressions during moments of turbulence, would that be considered nefarious?


so you can think of only one nefarious purpose.... does it make it right?


I understand why airlines and other industries are using off-the-shelf parts; I actually prefer this because it gets us closer to more modular IFE systems like what Delta/GoGo are doing on the A220, which means airlines can conceivably upgrade their IFE systems more frequently and at lower costs.

What I don’t understand is why there aren’t commodify parts available sans cameras, given the myriad of use-cases and the customer volume for camera-free Android/Linux/QNX (I doubt QNX is even a player given their royalties but just thinking of what embedded systems are available) tablets.

Anyway, it would take very little effort to assuage customers by blocking the cameras. If a 2¢ cover is too much, gaffer tape would work. It’s disappointing — though not surprising — that the airline industry hasn’t done this.


>> What I don’t understand is why there aren’t commodify parts available sans cameras, given the myriad of use-cases and the customer volume for camera-free Android

Yes. In fact, an acquaintance of mine is staying at a psychiatric hospital being treated for schizophrenia. He has absolutely nothing to do all day and wants to read books from the library. But he can't easily access the library.

This is possible (but slow and inconvenient) to do with an e-reader, but very convenient with a tablet.

However, devices with cameras or microphones are not permitted in the psych ward. They can be used to compromise the privacy of other patients. So the hospital would not allow tablets.

I "upgraded" a cheap tablet for him by permanently disabling the microphoneaand camera using a power drill and some epoxy. He's thrilled with it and the hospital has asked for more!


> Yes. In fact, an acquaintance of mine is staying at a psychiatric hospital being treated for schizophrenia. He has absolutely nothing to do all day and wants to read books from the library. But he can't easily access the library.

Nice. I guess this is the psychological equivalent of crappy hospital food right when your body is recovering and has the highest need of nutrients.


It's amazing how much quality-of-life improvement can be had with a relatively cheap Android tablet. I gave one as a gift to a relative who's in a care facility (no issues with microphone or cameras there, so I didn't have to do any modifications) and it's made a noticeable difference.


Sounds like a good use case for Alibaba - see how big the market is!


What's the market for Android tablets (units per year) for airlines, compared to retail? I would suspect retail vastly outnumbers it, hence being considerably cheaper. What other use cases are you thinking of that would have significant volume?


Medical facilities, government (where cameras are almost always disabled at the software/MDM level), any secure area where a front-facing camera isn't ideal.

Military and hospitals alone would strike me as being a big enough market to at least deserve a SKU/option.


Most medical facilities that I know use Apple tablets, and there isn't a chance in hell that Apple is releasing a tablet without a camera.

Mostly, making just one SKu drops the price and inventory handling so incredibly much that it isn't worthwhile. Especially when most people believe it is secure enough just to disable it in software. That said, most security minded people may not believe that, but it seems they are in the minority when it comes to business decision making.


It would be nice if there were non camera / no mic parts.

Or even just those with a physical switch that cuts power to them ... for everyone.

Maybe a backup switch that can be "broken" that effectively permanently cuts power to them? So you sell the same tablet, but you stick a key in a spot, turn, and they're disabled for good.


My guess is they were planning to offer in-flight video calls. Then they never did because it would use too much bandwidth, cost too much to implement, and wouldn't work with Facetime/Skype/WhatsApp to the other party would have to install a special app first.


> What I don’t understand is why there aren’t commodify parts available sans cameras

Me too. Given what I use tablets for, all other things being equal I would absolutely prefer one that didn't have a camera and microphone over one that did.


It makes one question if there was an ulterior motive.

That or complete disconnect with customer priorities (oh, they won't care).


It's actually a complete "connect" with customer priorities.

Most people don't care (yet) about their privacy, as evidenced by the scads of money that scummy data companies like Facebook et al are making selling our lives to advertisers.


That's no kind of evidence. There is at least one hidden premise to your argument, something like "If people cared about their privacy, they wouldn't use Facebook et al", which doesn't seem true to me at all. You first need evidence for that. But these points have been debated a thousand times on HN already... (Anecdatally, I hate that such sites sell peoples' information, but I use FB)


Personally, I want cameras on these things. It's an airplane, not a private space. And a camera is useful for all sorts of things from video conferencing to gesture based interaction.


I said this in another comment, but it really depends on the type of flight and class of cabin you're in. Singapore Airlines has showers in first class. Emirates, Qatar, Singapore, and Air France all have private first-class suites with doors or full-length curtains.

The big trend in international business class (both with US domestic and foreign carriers) is to make the seats as private as possible. Delta has doors on the A350, Qatar does something similar on the QSuite (which can be configured even for four people to have their only little pod and a double bed for couples), and others are following suit.

For those of us who travel extensively for work (especially international travel) and are expected to be ready to go upon landing (I sometimes have meetings or stage rehearsals within ours of landing after a 10+ hour flight -- though I usually try to arrange my travel so I have at least a night before to adjust, that isn't always possible), sleeping on planes is imperative and it's why you pay thousands of dollars for a lay-flat seat in a private cocoon for business class.

Also, people who do video conferencing on airplanes are the worst. The absolute worst. (Unless you're in one of the private first-class suites I'll never be able to afford, then knock yourself out.)


Given the state of surveillance at airports already, I'm honestly kind of surprised the cameras aren't active & recording the whole time to try to "detect threats"


No worries, I'm sure we will still be alive to see that happen. Ain't living in the future just wonderful?


It's ironic that in the book 1984 all the citizens have hidden cameras in their TVs. Today, in 2019, all the citizens have non-hidden cameras and microphones in pretty much every electronic device they use. We also have the customary day of rage, where we all direct our collective rage at some political opponent. Don't get me started on the butchering of the English language...


Sorry to nitpick but the cameras in the TVs in 1984 where not hidden. They even had a speaker and the government was able to talk directly to an individual through them.

The problem there, and here, is people don't really care.


Except people do care, as evidenced by the fact that this is even an article about a controversy in the first place.


Some journalists care. Don't conflate journalists or HN forum with the general public. Most people likely don't care at all.


People is just the plural of person. Journalists are people too.

A small amount of disgruntled air travelers stranded on the tarmac led to the establishment of a Passenger Bill of Rights: https://www.transportation.gov/briefing-room/us-department-t.... So I wouldn't say that this is worthless or that this is not impactful.


Then say "some people" if you don't want to be deceptive in what you're portraying. Just saying "people" implies that most people believe it, which is not the case.


> Most people likely don't care at all.

I honestly don't think this is true. I think that most people don't realize the amount of surveillance they're being subjected to, and many of those that do realize it engage in a little self-deception (they aren't really watching/they dont'care/etc.) in order to be OK with it.

But that's changing, and fast.


I think most people know, and they don't care. Look at UK as an example, it's literally 1984 with people on cameras talking to pedestrians to pick up their litter. Home voice automation with non-stop voice recording is the biggest privacy intrusion, and yet it's the biggest hit in the last couple of years.

I really don't think people care as much as you think. HN is not a good representation of how regular people think or feel.


I don't think people on HN care that much either.


Caring or not aside, the psychological and emotional "friction" from the constant din of surveillance takes it toll. Worst case, it influences your decisions / behavior to becomes less "suspect". There's no need to care, you've already been assimilated.


It's been a while since I've read it, but wasn't everyone in 1984 well aware of the cameras in their telescreens? That's why Wilson sought out a corner of his room where he was out of view of the camera?


I believe you're correct, 'cept that Wilson was Winston.


> [...] all the citizens have hidden cameras in their TVs.

The cameras weren't hidden.

> We also have the customary day of rage [...]

It was the Two Minutes Hate.

> Don't get me started on the butchering of the English language...

In the book, the changes to English -- to make it into Newspeak -- were controlled. No such control exists in the real world.

> It's ironic [...]

It seems not to be.


This is the reason we need laws surrounding data its collection, usage, retention and sharing. Companies and people will willfully or through sheer incompetence collect data, create privacy violations. For consumers there is no option but to rail against every new find. As we saw every company big and small do it. There is no solution but laws. At least that way we have a line drawn and we can fight for that line and about that line. Right now we are all screaming into a void hoping someone will listen and in some cases we yell into a void when its not warranted.


Actually surprised there's no cameras on planes (that I know of at least). Buses, subways, other mass transit have cameras.

And I've seen no one complain about the cameras some food chains use in their table-side checkout systems. Red Robin is the first that comes to mind. It sits there your entire meal... Obviously it's to take your pic when you swipe your credit card (and apparently scan coupons and gift cards).


BART has cameras near every door. They recently updated them so that all of them work. Until mid 2016, only 23% of them did. Given that it's BART, I'd flip a coin to determine if any particular one still does work.

https://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2017/news20170628

https://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/BART-admits-77-percent-...


Those kiosks have cameras in them? I've used them dozens of times and never realized, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.


Yep

https://www.ziosk.com/the-experience

"Scan coupons and gift cards with the built-in camera"


> Buses, subways, other mass transit have cameras.

It was putting cameras in public transit that got me to stop using public transit.


The real question is, why didn't AA & Singapore Airlines not put a sticker on top of the camera instead of having all this negative publicity? QA was probably concerned about something else.


I flew on a plane similar to the one cited in the article this past Monday. It was a late night flight and I turned the screen off to try and sleep, only to have the screen turn itself back on (and disable the power button) to show me advertisements. Between this and "smart" TVs that secretly surveil the end user, I'm not optimistic about the future of humane consumer electronics.


Should’ve grabbed keys or something sharp and scratched the screen.


Griping at and shaming companies who may or may not have a legitimate use case is a battle that will never end. You don't necessarily know which products have cameras, and you don't have a ton of leverage anyway.

Instead, what would make sense to me is to have an across the board regulatory requirement that cameras, regardless of purpose, product type, etc.:

(1) must be clearly marked (logo, wording, etc.), and

(2) must have some kind of reliable, independent way to shut them down or defeat them (such as a plastic shutter to cover the camera, etc. -- not just a software controlled indicator light).

That way there is considerably less need for complicated agree-to-disagree debates about whether a camera should or shouldn't exist in this or that context. Instead, there would be one thing that is clear cut, objective, and possible to enforce, and people would be empowered to do something about the cameras around them. (Except for security cameras, which would need to be a separate category.)


Most airplanes have built-in CCTV cameras whose explicit purpose is to record everyone in the cabin for the entire flight. So do MUNI buses.

Instead people are raising the issue of a stock camera that's obviously not being used to record. There would be no way to keep that a secret, everything in an airplane has to be FAA approved.


A CCTV camera from an angle far(relatively) away at the front and back of the cabin isn't the same level as one in the device staring you in the face.

How long until that camera gets enabled to do eyetracking for ad and premium services tracking. Whos to say its not already?

Mixed it in with facial recognition so they can sell that data to other ad agencies and now you see the problem with allowing the camera to exist at that location in the first place.


The recently passed California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requires that any collection of biometric information to be disclosed and along with who the data is being sold to. The law goes into effect on January 1st, 2020 so we'll know then and in the future if they are doing any kind of personal identification at all.

Given the tablets can't even scroll through a list of movies without lagging and show everyone the same 2 minute Honda commercial before each movie despite already knowing who you are from your ID and frequent flyer number, I'd venture that the airlines haven't figured out how to do eye tracking yet.


Why are you more concerned about the tablet camera than the camera hidden in the air vent to steal your passwords?


United has several planes with what appear to be active IR LEDs in the same spot on the front bezel. Any idea what those are doing? Tracking empty seats? Movement for some reason?


It's for detecting when your hands move towards the display, and turning on LEDs in response (for instance, many in-seat monitors have a USB socket with a LED ring around it) - I worked on those units many years ago.


Pretty cool, I guess I never picked up on the behavior because I am mostly on my laptop.


Delta does too. It appears it grows more intense the closer you get your hands to it, and the lights near the bottom of the screen turn on when your hand is sufficiently close to the sensor/LED thing.


Maybe it's a nice ease of access feature to turn the screen back on after it's turned off in the dark on the flight


If you're in a taxi cab the driver will have a camera pointed at them and you, the passenger. You're paying to get transported from A to B. If you're on an airplane you're doing the same thing only paying more and going up in the air. I guess I don't see the issue? Maybe, and I mean maybe if you paid for a plane ticket that had a "private" seat with a door, could this be a gray area.


Taxis have cameras because passengers have a terrible habit of beating up and robbing drivers.


Such history exists in air travel as well.


Planes already have cameras in them. This just offers yet another angle to view you from.


Security concerns aside, I thought the cameras were there so you could swipe in front of it to turn the infotainment system on? Is there proof they are recording? Planes have weight limitations. A long-haul 8-12hr flight for 300 passengers is a significant commitment to storage space and the weight of said drives.


1 TB fits on a flash drive these days. If they were transferring semi-regularly when grounded and recording in SD, you'd be talking on the order of a few pounds.


I forgot security cameras only run at like 5fps, so that's a good point.


One 10TB drive, maybe more if you want a redundant array? I can't see this taking up any weight.


These cameras will eventually be enabled plus they're pointing at your face. This becomes especially important when facial recognition software gets to the point that it can, with high probability, capture your mood. If you look angry or aggressive then you are a risk to a safe flight. It might get to the point where you're escorted from the plane before it takes off due to you looking mad because you couldn't find an overhead bin. An extension of this would be for air marshals to Taser you inflight before you can causes an incident, all because you look drunk or look mad due to sneezing giving you a red face.


What's the big deal, though? Its not like these devices are in your home -- they are in a public space that is well known to be heavily surveiled.

So I guess, even in the worst case scenario where these cameras were recording you, what is so different from the other 500x camera FOVs you step into during your journey? What am I missing?


I'm of the same mind. I never considered being on a plane a private space, any more than being on a subway or bus.

In terms of corporate espionage, our security tells us to never work on sensitive documents while on a plane as it's considered a "public space".


An airport is a public space. A plane seat is semi-private or at least has always had that expectation. And given that it was placed there by the people owning the plane, it is well within the bounds of what passengers can expect to demand changed by said owners.


> A plane seat is semi-private or at least has always had that expectation.

Really? I've never had that expectation. I consider it the same as sitting on a seat on a public transit bus or subway train.

I still think the airline should disclose when and how they're recording me, but an expectation of privacy? Nah.


So when you're sitting next to your significant other and talking about personal issues, you have no problem with being audio/video recorded?

Most people expect some level of privacy when sitting at their seat. This is not a general/overview cabin camera, this is literally a foot in front of you and pointed directly at your face.


For topics that I wouldn't like recorded, I don't speak about them on a plane. I don't think I'm abnormal in not thinking of a plane seat as a private place, and disagree with your assertion that "most people" do.


I will never understand this mentality.


Understand what? That public vs. private is a spectrum and not a black and white area? Or that consumers can discover they don't like something about the product they're using and demand changes?


Not sure I agree re: the seat being semi-private. Surely it must be expected that there is surveillance in general on airplanes? As there is in any other public transportation (train, subway, taxi, etc..)

I guess the whole controversy seems very knee-jerk and out of touch with the existing level of monitoring already on board the plane and in the airport.


There is some cabin-wide or train-wide surveillance, sure. But there isn't a camera inches from your head pointed directly at your face, covering your entire seat in its FOV.

You might reasonably expect a bouncer or a security guard at a concert to be overlooking a crowd. You wouldn't expect one assigned specifically to you breathing in front of your face.


It's been about a year or so since I've flown, but from memory there were tablets on my last QANTAS flight that also had run of the mill hardware cameras on the tablets. They looked like any ol' chinese made tablet to be honest, I didn't think too much of it.


This seems like a cost issue. Aside from the privacy issues, it’s gotta be cheaper to buy a pile of COTS tablets and bolt them to your airline seats than commission a custom form factor and hardware spec.

That said, this is actually a time when physically occluding the camera makes sense.


Interestingly, Delta just launched a group (Delta Flight Products) recognizing that this is an area for differentiation: https://news.delta.com/3-ways-delta-flight-products-revoluti...


I think I remember reading Cathay Pacific has cameras in the first class cabin for a customer service reason—to attend to you when you were awake...


I give it about a week until the airlines cover all the cameras with stickers. Maybe a nice little company logo.


The overwhelming availability of gum in an airplane cabin might suggest a solution to the privacy-conscious.


Wait until they start embedding cameras in toilet seats. "For better passenger comfort".


I've seen these in:

SAS Emirites Cathray Pacific

flights.


Hmm. I guess I need to start carrying post-it notes when I fly.


Soon the TSA will be confiscating sticky notes.


More dangerous than Dasani!


There's security cameras in every mass transit vehicle I've ever been in. Why is this a privacy issue?


Then we have to hope that someone leaks a cell phone video of the incident as it plays on a screen in a security hut somewhere. No way any airline is going to publish video of airport security dragging a paying customer down the aisle of an aircraft.


I can't wait for the MKBHD breakdown of them.


You're in public on an airline, so whatever, they can have all the cameras they want on that airline.


How can you have privacy concerns in a completely public space?


Would you want to go to a movie theatre where audience engagement is recorded by a hidden, undisclosed camera? Would you prefer that? People are right to have instinctual suspicion of being covertly spied upon en masse in public spaces.


Would you want to go to a movie theatre where audience engagement is recorded by a hidden, undisclosed camera?

Deployed since 2004 to look for camcorders.[1] Disney tried out technology for recording audience engagement in a theater in 2017. [2][3] "We instrumented a 400 seat movie theater using four infra-red (IR) cameras and four IR illuminators placed above the projection screen. The cameras were outfitted with IR bandpass filters to remove the spill of visible light that reflected off the movie screen. The video was recorded at 12 frames per second with a resolution of 2750×2200 pixels. The resolution of faces ranged from 15×25 (back rows) to 40×55 (front rows). We collected over 150 viewings of 9 mainstream movies released in 2015 and 2016". They show graphs for laughing and smiling over time for Inside Out. So it works. Coming soon to a theater near you, probably.

Cinemark installed intensive surveillance of the concession stand.[4] That's where the money is made. "The concessions people could look through every kids’ combo that was sold across a region and see whether they are actually attracting children or if they are trading down college-aged women who would’ve bought a larger size of all of those items if you didn’t have that meal option for them."

[1] http://www.pirateeye.com/pirateeye/technology/

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20171116222427/https://www.disne...

[3] https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/disneyresearch/wp-content...

[4] http://www.filmjournal.com/content/envysion-better-business-...


Well, I'll be..


Maybe I'm an outlier, but I would be okay with an IR camera scraping audience engagement at a movie or a concert or a billboard - even after hearing the slippery slope hypotheticals against it.


If I'm walking around, say, the Grand Canyon, you know, up top looking down. If someone is walking around filming a travel vlog and I happen to get filmed, ok, so what? Right? But if they run up and shove the camera in my face without asking for permission, that becomes rude and I should absolutely have some say in it.

If I'm in an airline, I should have some say if there's going to be a camera facing me the ... entire ... flight. That goes beyond just the casual picture or video capture.


Depends in what country you are. Don't need your permission in the USA or the UK.


It would still be rude and violate widely held standards for personal space and privacy. Never forget that legal and appropriate are very different things.


The point here is "recourse". A "victim" would have no recourse in the illustrated situation. The person said "they should have some say in it." That would be recourse.


If they get really offensive about filming me, I could call the police for harassment, at least.


IANAL.

In the USA, it depends on jurisdiction and the circumstances. For example, CA is a "two-party consent" state, meaning that to record another party requires their knowledge and consent in some circumstances. This case (a camera in the back of an airline seat) is a bit on the line: the space isn't terribly private (it's a row of seats on an airline), yet a private conversation might be had in a low voice between two people, who did not see, or do not recognize, and were not told that there is a camera pointed right at them.

I do not know if this is a violation of two-party consent. It might not be.


>For example, CA is a "two-party consent" state

IANAL, but AFAIK one/two party consent only applies to private conversations (eg. phone calls). Public conversations are fair game in all jurisdictions.


So surveillance cameras are illegal in California? I don't think so. I think your statement is incorrect and likely applies only to private voice conversations.


Commercial use of a photo or video with an identifiable person requires permission (model release forms and stuff). I'm sure that airlines would argue that any data they use for commercial purposes are anonymous (despite you know aving video and name/seat/camera correspondence).


It's my understanding that a release form is typically only used if the video is going to be made available publicly, used in marketing material, etc.

If their commercial purpose was internal to the company then a release wouldn't be required.

I'm an American. This likely isn't true in other countries with more stringent privacy laws.


In the UK, this sort of thing (putting camera right in your face against your wishes, more than once) might be considered harassment, even in a public place.


"To continue watching your in-flight movie, please watch this ad, note looking away from the screen will pause the ad while we wait for your gaze to return."

That is an entirely realistic scenario, patents have been granted for this already. Regardless of an expectation of privacy it is potentially a terrible UX as well.


That's when you bring your own tablet with some downloaded movies.

I mean, yeah, it's conceivable that someone could try that. It is also conceivable that it would fail miserably.


Nah, that's when you bring you "I'm paying attention"-mask to pretend you're paying attention.


So you're wearing a mask to pretend to be watching an ad so you don't have to actually watch the movie that you want to keep watching?


It is also conceivable that it becomes the new normal and we slide further into our dystopian capitalist future.


Sure we can conceive of nearly anything, but it's not like airlines can realistically stop people from bringing their own devices on planes and watching what they want. That's always going to be the alternative if the in-seat entertainment gets too shitty.


Spotify already does that, except with volume.

If you turn down your volume too much on your phone, it pauses the advert and demands to raise volume to continue.


But you can pay spotify to have no ads, which makes spotify good in my book.


I wouldn't even mind, except when you're sampling trailers and watching movies on a long flight it sure gets annoying to watch the same 5 or 6 ads in a row for the 3rd or 6th time. And then again on the return flight.


I'm paying lots of money to be there. It seems like it's in an airline's best interests to not piss off customers by secretly filming them (or even appearing to have the capability to do so), given how creepy it seems to many people.

Unlike "completely public spaces", it's not free to be on an airplane. You can vote with your wallet in this situation.


Exactly. Also, it’s techbcially “private” space which means they can record you, but there needs to be a notice somewhere. I’m sure there’s something hidden in the air passenger terms of service or whatever, but still!


It's interesting how the expectation of privacy varies from person to person!

Since members of the general public are in close proximity I generally wouldn't consider an airplane cabin a place where I could have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

In places that are intentionally restricted from view by others, like my own home, a hotel room, etc. I'd have an expectation of privacy.


People by and large keep to themselves on airplanes. If someone was recording you with their cell phone for the duration of the flight, I promise you, you wouldn't like it. The resultant footage wouldn't particularly be any different than if it was recorded by the seatback in front of you, though.

If I'm going to, say, a concert, or especially a taping of a TV show, I have a much higher expectation of ending up in some video footage. But people often sleep on planes. They're not expecting to be recorded.


I wouldn't like it and if I noticed I'd politely ask them to stop. However, (and I'm not a lawyer) I don't think it'd be illegal or even unethical. If someone was recording me napping on a plane I'd treat it the same way as if I was napping under a tree in a national park. It would be a non issue for me.

Privacy is something I control by not exposing sensitive information in areas where recording is a possibility.

I already take precautions when flying by not working on my laptop or having sensitive conversations with family or coworkers.

I generally don't consider information on where my gaze is looking, facial expressions, or if I'm awake or asleep sensitive information unless I'm in a private space like my home, a hotel room, or a bathroom.


You're not supposed to use your camera in customs areas in airports. Some airlines get really weird about people even taking photos on the plane (though that has relaxed a lot), so it might not be against FAA rules, but I think someone purposefully recording a sleeping person would still be frowned upon and would be one of those activities that could get a plane turned around if the passenger didn't desist when asked or delete the footage.

But aside from that, I'd posit that it's actually a very different thing to have a random passenger recording you (which is still gross) and the airline (which may be owned and operated by a foreign government, which is the case for most of the airlines in the Middle East and some in Asia), which has your name, your passport number, your birthdate, your address, and other very sensitive and identifying information on file.

One is creepy and uncool. The other could be flat-out surveillance. Especially since when you travel, the government data you give to the airlines isn't negotiable (meaning unless I'm flying domestic, I can't use a fake ID and name to travel (and even that would be against the law), I have to use my passport, my full name, my address, etc.


Pretty sure someone could experience serious ramifications if they persisted recording you after being asked to stop. They might even be met by police at the destination and banned for life if they refused the commands from flight attendants after their inevitable involvement.


Flight attendants do seem to have a lot of discretion when it comes to instructing passengers and I know that failing to follow safety related instructions can lead to bans or police involvement.

I'm not sure if they'd be able to extend that to someone recording me although it likely varies by country. I think British law considers continued recording a form of harassment where the same protections don't exist in America.

If I was really really bothered by it for some reason I might raise it once. The cabin crew has the safety of the flight and other responsibilities to be concerned with.


> Privacy is something I control by not exposing sensitive information in areas where recording is a possibility.

The problem is that this attitude will ultimately mean that the only place where you might have any chance of privacy is in your own home. And even there, privacy is getting more and more rare.


Where else do you have privacy in America? Can't think of a single other location other than one one's own property.


Sure -- but that also depends on your class of cabin, your flight length, all kinds of things.

I fly a lot for work (I'm already at 67k miles flown for 2019 -- that's actual miles not airline miles (so that 67k is lower than my status miles)) and for anything over 6 hours or so, I fly business (unless I get an upgrade on a short-haul) and have had 6 flights over 10 hours this year, where I tend to have a lay flat bed and attempt to sleep. So I DO sleep on flights. Quite a bit (my flight to/from Australia was great, largely because I slept 9 of the 14 hours the first leg and 7 of the 13 hours the second).

I'd be just as freaked out if someone was recording me sleeping on an airplane in a ticket I paid $10k for as if I was when a hotel employee knocked once and then barged into my room in Sao Paulo back in December while I was changing into my pajamas. (And I was plenty mad at the WTC Sheraton for that!)


If the $10k tickets provide a private area separated from the other passengers with a partition that prevents observation then I'd expect privacy from being recorded. Likewise in a hotel room, it's a solitary space separate from others and I'd expect privacy from being recorded or observed by employees entering my room. I'd share your same outrage!

However my experience stems from two long haul flights in economy and a handful of domestic flights in the same class. If someone was recording me while I was sleeping there I'd treat it the same as if I was napping under a tree in a national park. I wouldn't be concerned.

If there aren't measures in place to prevent other members of the public from observing then I expect recording is a possibility.


With respect -- a long haul flight in economy (or even premium economy) and a long haul in business class (not to mention first class on airlines that offer that) are VERY different experiences.

In many business class seats, they are designed so that you cannot even see the person adjacent to you unless you specifically put your head out of the curved herringbone shell -- and that's when you're sitting. If you're laying flat, your head is completely obscured by the seat.

Delta and Qatar have doors on some of their business class seats.

People walking through the cabin can observe people sleeping, of course -- but these products are literally designed for sleeping and privacy. It's one of the reasons they charge such a premium for those tickets.


The substantiating factor for me has two dimensions: scale and intent.


I think the people who disagree with this reply should explain their reasoning.

You're in public on an aircraft, you have no reasonable expectation of privacy. The people around you, including the airline's staff, can listen to your conversations/see you.

I'm not even arguing legally, even just in terms of common sense, everything you do or say is isn't private in those circumstances. So a camera being there (regardless of if it is used) isn't moving the needle either direction.


Do not equate being seen by random people next to you, to multinational corporations monitoring your facial expressions, gaze direction, mood, who you're talking to and how much, and saving that data indefinitely, to be sold, shared, or used in any way possible to extract more money.

It's the difference between a neighbor, and a neighbor who is also an informant.


Sure, there are other, strange people on board. It would be uncomfortable if one of them positioned their face right in front of mine and stared at me, listening, the entire flight. The camera would bother me likewise.


Even if they blocked the camera then the argument would shift to the microphone which may still work even if physically blocked.

Plus you're contrasting the invasion of personal space, with the perception that a non-privacy space is now non-privacy.

But since the space was never private to being with has anything changed or has the airline just ruined your own fiction about the space?


It's public in the sense that there are other people are there, yes.

It's not public in the fact that you cannot just legally waltz into somebody else's airplane without permission. You pay a company to manage the experience in the airplane within their powers. It is perfectly fine for consumers to question why a hitherto unspoken contract about cameras directly observing a passenger's seat has been broken, and the camera placed there entirely as a result of the plane's owners.


The difference between between being in public in the 70s and 80s shifted - we started getting some cameras installed in various public places. 80s to 90s? Pretty much every store you go into - you'll be recorded. 90s to 2000s your coverage from traffic cameras, etc.. your recorded life in public has now gone from 30% to 50%. 2000 - today? We're probably at 60%-70%. What's next?

Now getting into ML. What are those cheap cameras we buy in Amazon going to be capable of in 10 years - auto-recording/notification options for: nose-picking, peeing, nipple flash/down-blouse/upskirt, screaming... IDENTIFYING people by name?

Beyond this, what about public places that are gender specific- bathrooms. Heck, we may even see bathroom stall camera's that aren't "watched" by anyone but ML - just for theft monitoring. If that happens we'll likely find out, yet again, that someone with eyes was watching after all.

I get that each generation doesn't really understand how it was in the past, and just pops up into whatever privacy shit we're doing today, but we just keep letting it slide.

My point is, the needle is moving with these small changes.


>I'm not even arguing legally, even just in terms of common sense, everything you do or say is isn't private in those circumstances. So a camera being there (regardless of if it is used) isn't moving the needle either direction.

You already have a number of replies covering some good ground, but there is a word covering the feeling I don't see yet: stalking. There is a fundamental difference in feeling (and a legally recognized one as well) between being seen/heard a specific coincidental instances by a crowd of random strangers whom one might quite reasonably expect to never encounter again in their entire lives -versus- having a single person individual or organization conduct persistent surveillance of you. This isn't some weird obscure situation either is it? The uncomfortableness level seems to be pretty universal. The other unrelated passengers on the airplane are generally going to be an entirely random and diverse group of total strangers. They're unlikely to remember you, to care, or to have any particular interest in you, let alone the ability and volume of information necessary to affect you.

But the airliner is a singular entity, and in this instance it's actually fairly illuminating to apply the "personhood" idea to it and consider it as if a single powerful person was following you and recording you constantly. That person does have a direct economic interest in you, may wield a certain level of monopoly power depending on location, or alternately can easily potentially collaborate with a small number of other "persons" with your information. The person will not forget and can follow you over decades. They can do the same to friends, relatives and acquaintances, drawing inferences and information from higher level social network graphs that would not be discernible from a small given slice.

Now you might not care about this yourself, but you should still be able to recognize that it's something quite different then merely "being in public amongst instantiated strangers". Historically it has been perfectly reasonable from an information theory point of view to have a certain expectation of common likely "anonymity in a crowd", because it's not physically possible for a single human to remember tens of thousands of people. Historically when attempts have been made to use some minimal level of technology and large numbers of bodies to implement mass surveillance and centralized recording an analysis it has made people quite uncomfortable (the Stasi say). There is no reason why advancing technology making it cheaper and requiring less bodies would make people suddenly be fine with it would it?

Scale sometimes brings emergent effects that are a pure function of large numbers. You can't always do a clean extrapolation.


An airplane isn't really public space like the street, since you can't just waltz into an airplane free of charge, and airplanes are not generally owned directly by the public. They are managed places open to the public for a price, and that payment comes with certain expectations (e.g., there wasn't a camera present 20 years ago, why should it be present now?)


Nothing about paying for a service disallows the airline company from putting cameras in the public space they operate for a profit unless it's specified in the contract that they are not allowed to do so. I guarantee you they did not put restrictions like that on themselves in the contract with the customer. Your argument that cameras did not exist in these spaces 20 years ago is completely irrelevant to what the airline can do now. If you don't like it, get the laws changed. By this reasoning, the airport itself could not put up security cameras beyond the security checkpoints where only ticketed passengers are allowed. That's absurd.


Nothing disallows it. But just because it's perfectly legal doesn't mean that consumers don't have the right to question it and then agitate against it, which is what is happening in the article. The legal code is not perfect.


So you always check hotel contracts for clauses forbidding them to film you?


There's a difference between "one person saw me pick my nose in the aeroplane" and "me picking my nose was recorded for all time, later published and made available to the entire World".


What definition of "completely public" are you using that would include a privately-owned airplane that I spent $100+ to board after going through a security checkpoint?


The fact that you are sitting in an open area with 100+ other strangers around you?

A shopping mall might be privately owned, but it's still a public space. Any place that is open to the general public is a public space.


Its a difference of scale.

We license people to be private investigators. They stalk around, take pictures, and otherwise spy on what they're paid to do within the confines of the law and their license. It costs people-time to do this.

Whereas we can blanket cameras everywhere, run facial recog, and do further analytics on the saved videos. It takes roughly 0 people-hours to operate that (setup costs time, but further requires none).

And remember Cardinal Richieu's (disputed) comment "If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him."

Instead, give me a year's worth of footage..... How many felonies will you find?


If we find 100 felonies per person for everyone in the country, it's going to be physically impossible to prosecute that many cases and jail that many people. At some point we have to decide that it's not worth having a law that is essentially unenforceable.

Maybe you could argue that they would just be selectively enforced to remove people the state finds inconvenient. We could probably fix that legislatively by requiring a law to be enforced some high X% of times that the state becomes aware of it, because what's really the point of a law if it's ignored 99% of the time?

The thing is, technology doesn't just go away. Once something is invented, there's no uninventing it. So, we're going to have to figure out how to create a just world where public surveillance is ubiquitous.

The idea of privacy in terms of "don't look at me" is not something we do for its own sake. It exists to serve a purpose, whether that's to prevent embarrassment or prevent tyranny. We're going to need to find other ways to serve those purposes.


Imagine if cameras could read your retinas and identify you like in Minority Report (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bXJ_obaiYQ). Though we're not there yet, facial recognition tech is almost ready for something similar.


In this case wouldn't that point be irrelevant? Generally airlines have assigned seating and they already have validation of your identity from the booking information.


Yes, in the case of flying on a commercial flight they already have your identity. The parent that I was responding to assumed the more general case though:

> How can you have privacy concerns in a completely public space?


No, the burden is on you. How can you have a concern with people not being spied on in public?


Because that's been the norm for decades and while I don't like the laws of our society, I must adapt to them.


Anything that goes on for a few decades is already gospel to you? If everybody though that way, there would be no vote for women, there still would be slavery and segregation, half of the world would speak German or Russian today, and so on. Laws come from people. From citizens, actually. Just going along to get along is beneath all adults, not to mention citizens in socities that are still free on paper. Nobody has the right to be obedient. That is, you can forfeit all your own human rights if you want, but you cannot forfeit them on behalf of others and future generations.


Buzzfeed confirms his focus on writing articles for the sole purpose of provoking outrage to get the last few clicks before they finally go bankrupt.


These stories remind me of something that happened in my first internship in 2000.

One of the interns that I worked with left a week earlier than I did so he could have some R & R. That Monday, we all got an email from him that went something like, "Check out my WebCam!!!!"

I clicked on the link, and my screen was filled with a picture of him with his finger fully up his nose, picking a winner.

Would have been better if we saw the full booger.




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