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Cathay Pacific Says It’s Recording Passengers With Onboard CCTV

2 minute read

If you find yourself on a Cathay Pacific flight, smile, because you might just be on camera.

The Hong Kong-based airline recently revealed that CCTV cameras are installed on board, reigniting debates about travelers’ privacy 35,000 feet up.

Cathay Pacific passengers can expect information on their itineraries, travel companions, purchase of duty free items, activities while on board and usage of the in-flight entertainment system to be collected, according to an updated privacy policy released at the end of July. Cameras are also set up at Cathay’s airport lounges.

The carrier, consistently named one of the world’s best, says this data will be used to aid customer support, improve products and services and ensure the safety and security of those on board.

“All images are handled sensitively with strict access controls,” a spokesperson for Cathay Pacific told CNN Travel. The spokesperson added that the use of the cameras is “in line with standard practice.”

Cathay is the latest airline to confirm the surveillance of passengers on flights. Last year, carriers including American Airlines and Singapore Airlines said their aircrafts have cameras in the seat-back entertainment systems, but added that they are not activated.

The Cathay spokesperson clarified that the cameras onboard the company’s flights are set up in the aircraft and are not embedded into the backs of seats.

According to the privacy statement, the collected data is shared with third party groups including industry partners such as hotel and travel operators for marketing purposes, and is also used for “legal and administrative purposes.”

The airline says the personal data is stored on secure servers, but, like any information transmitted online, it cannot be “guaranteed to be secure from intrusion.”

Last year, the personal information of nine million Cathay Pacific passengers, including their phone numbers and passport numbers, was potentially leaked due to a data breach, according to CNN.

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Write to Hillary Leung at hillary.leung@time.com