by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
Some security experts are actually baffled by this move and can only explain that with the fact that a laptop (and other device) in the hold luggage can be searched without the permission of the owner, which is, more likely than not, the idea behind this rather than anything else. In other words, the laptop ban on flights may not be about security at all.
The United States and the United Kingdom have both banned electronic devices larger than a mobile phone from cabins on flights from some Middle Eastern and North African countries. This includes – those banned that is – also iPads, tablet PC and eReaders. Guess it is time for pen and notebook and real books again then on flights. Those “measures” have been enacted in response to an “unspecified security concern”, a term which covers a multitude of sins.
The US has banned large electronic devices on flights from airports in the following countries:
- Saudi Arabia
- the United Arab Emirates
The UK's ban, on the other hand, is slightly less restrictive and only applies to flights from the following countries:
- Saudi Arabia
Is this measure going to make things any safer? The answer must be a categorical no as real terrorists will find other ways of that we can be sure. All it is doing is affecting the innocent travelers, and especially those that wish and need to work while flying, including, but not only, journalists.
Aside from the worry that many have that their checked in laptop, etc., is in danger of being stolen then other concern that should be there is that it will be illegally searched during standard and not so standard baggage checks.
When the laptop or other device is in the hold luggage the authorities do not, it would appear, require the permission of the owner to search the electronic devices and the data on them.
Maybe it is time for any traveler, especially those like journalists and activists, to have an operating system and data carrier that works on any computer wherever they are going to without the need to have all the stuff on a personal laptop. It is possible to do this with a variety of devices and especially with operating systems such as Linux. Have everything on a thumb drive – and they do have quite a storage capacity nowadays – and all that is required is the use of a PC at the other end. It is true that you still cannot do any work – per computer – during the flight but there is always the option of longhand in pen and paper.