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EU Transportation United Kingdom Hardware Technology

US and EU Reject Expanding Laptop Ban To Flights From Europe (bbc.com) 87

An anonymous reader writes: US and EU officials have decided against a ban on laptops and tablets in cabin baggage on flights from Europe. But after a four-hour meeting in Brussels to discuss the threats to aviation security, officials said other measures were still being considered. US officials had previously said they were looking into extending to Europe a ban on electronics on flights from eight mostly Muslim countries. The measure was introduced over fears a bomb could be concealed in a device. The meeting was requested by EU officials after recent reports suggested US authorities had new information regarding laptop parts being turned into explosives.

US and EU Reject Expanding Laptop Ban To Flights From Europe

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  • Not about security (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bluegutang ( 2814641 ) on Thursday May 18, 2017 @10:10AM (#54441093)

    If laptops had been banned on flights from Europe, then a terrorist could put an undetectable-laptop-bomb in their luggage from Paris to New York, then pick up their luggage, board a flight from New York to Los Angeles with the laptop in hand, and blow the plane up.

    Banning laptops on international flights would have done nothing about that risk. Therefore, it seems this measure was security theater, not real security. And when it became clear how big the economic effect of banning laptops would be (in terms of dissuading travel), the measure had to be cancelled. Laptops are still banned on flights from the Middle East, but this is a small market without other options, so the economic impact on the US is minimal.

    • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Thursday May 18, 2017 @10:33AM (#54441259) Homepage
      Have you landed from an international flight in New York or Los Angeles, recently, with a connecting flight? I've only done Atlanta myself, but if I recall correctly, you have to go through both customs and security.
      • Of course. Customs doesn't check for explosives at all. There is no reason to think that US security for domestic flights is more rigorous than European security for international flights. So the checks in the US airport wouldn't make any difference.

      • Whether you go through security or not is a moot point. The only reasonable cause for a ban like this is if you think the terrorists have a laptop bomb that can successfully get through security without being detected. Once you understand that, you begin to see how pointless the ban actually is if it's only enforced on inbound flights, which is what the OP was getting at.

        More or less, we'd still be letting the terrorist into the country with their undetectable bomb, at which point they can board a domestic

        • Whether you go through security or not is a moot point. The only reasonable cause for a ban like this is if you think the terrorists have a laptop bomb that can successfully get through security without being detected. Once you understand that, you begin to see how pointless the ban actually is if it's only enforced on inbound flights, which is what the OP was getting at.

          ... or you believe that foreign airport security is inadequate. And, while I'm generally anti-TSA and think we should rollback security procedures to 1990s levels as opposed to our current security theater, I readily admit that many foreign airports have seriously weak security.

          • by mspohr ( 589790 )

            Not too long ago I was traveling in Papua New Guinea on internal flights. They had absolutely no security screening to get on the plane (an Embraer jet).
            The only place I encountered security was in getting OFF the airplane in the Highlands... they wanted to keep people from taking weapons into that area.
            I agree that most security is just theatre and wouldn't deter a determined terrorist.
            For bombs, it's easy to do non-invasive screening of luggage and people.
            For guns, basic xray scanning.
            No more strip search

      • If it's undetectable by advanced security measures in a developed country such as in Europe, is there any reason to think it would be detectable by screening in the USA?

        It's one thing to suggest that we can't trust screening measures at airports in countries with lax security measures, who may miss (or be bribed to miss) things that screening in the USA would likely catch, but it's another for them to say that European airports are inherently less safe than those in the USA.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think he was talking about FedExing the "laptop" to him in New York, then flying there, then getting on a new flight to LA with the "Laptop".

        Assuming we screen incoming flights as well as we do domestic (I assume it is done even more thoroughly), the international ban does nothing.

      • you have to go through both customs and security.

        The primary reason for this ban is that neither customs nor security seem to be able to detect the threat. If they were then there would be no reason to ban laptops on planes in the first place.

      • Have you landed from an international flight in New York or Los Angeles, recently, with a connecting flight? I've only done Atlanta myself, but if I recall correctly, you have to go through both customs and security.

        I've done this at NYC, LAX, SFO, ATL, MSP, DEN, MIA and probably others. Yes, unless you went through US immigration, customs and security in the other country (the US has arrangements with some countries to do those in the foreign airport, allowing the international flight to then proceed as though it were a domestic US flight), you always go through immigration, customs and then security upon arrival in the US.

        Which is exactly what makes it possible to do what bluegutang said. He said (with some clarify

    • then a terrorist could put an undetectable-laptop-bomb in their luggage from Paris to New York, then pick up their luggage

      Omitting the tiny detail that the luggage goes through much more rigorous screening than any carryon, so it would in fact be detected, and the person arrested, all before the plane took off...

      What is your idea of an "undetectable laptop bomb"????

      • by mccalli ( 323026 )
        A Samsung one.

        Yeah, I know. Miaaooow....
      • What is your idea of an "undetectable laptop bomb"????

        The whole point of these laptop measures is that, supposedly, the bombs cannot be detected at security. You can turn the laptop on and operate it normally, and it looks normal on the x-ray, but there is a bomb inside. And supposedly if a passenger holds this bomb up to the side of the plane, it can blow a hole in the fuselage and destroy the plane. And the only way to avoid this possibility is to require all laptops to be in checked baggage.

        Which all makes sense, until you remember that laptops would only b

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I never understood why people care so much about planes. What's the point of protecting planes from bombs when terrorists can just bomb people everywhere: airport lineups, buses, trains, subways, sports stadium, bars, etc. Airport security theater is getting so ridiculous.

        • The whole point of these laptop measures is that, supposedly, the bombs cannot be detected at security.

          Yes, because they don't do as intensive of a screening of you and your carryon vs. the luggage that goes into the plane.

          The chemical sniffers that most people don't have to go through in security lines and are impractical to do on all laptops can easily be done on ALL luggage...

      • The idea of an 'undetectable laptop bomb' is: you can not detect that there is a small amount of explosive inside.
        So you had a small amount of undetected explosives, but could use that to suicide bomb a window out of the plane (or a bit more than a window).
        The US tried to force the rest of the world to have all laptops in cargo, instead of the cabins.
        The parents are just pointing out that you have to ban laptops on all flights or not at all.

        • The parents are just pointing out that you have to ban laptops on all flights or not at all.

          And that is the point I disagree with.

          From some countries, the risk of this happening is simply much lower than others.

          In particular some airports like Egypt, it may be MUCH easier to bribe guards to bring anything into the secured areas (that was being reported around the time the plane from Egypt blew up).

          That is why it makes sense to ban laptops from some airports and not others...

          • Then you did not read the parents good enough.
            The Egypt will bring his laptop in cargo of the Egypt plane.

            Then he takes a connecting flight in the US and has the laptop in the cabin ...

            • The Egypt will bring his laptop in cargo of the Egypt plane.

              Which will be found via sniffers (remember that luggage has enter go trough U.S. Customs screening ALSO) and he will be arrested.

              By doing this internationally you've also doubled the chances luggage scans will find your laptop bomb.

              Great plan Sherlock!

              Apparently YOU are the one who cannot read since that is what I started with...

              Since you're just going in circles I've leave the last response to you.

              • Which will be found via sniffers (remember that luggage has enter go trough U.S. Customs screening ALSO) and he will be arrested.

                If that was the case it would also be found when he tries to bring it into the cabin ... we are obviously talking about "things" that can not be sniffed.

                Even I with my mediocre military education know how to make a "thing" that can not be sniffed ...

                By doing this internationally you've also doubled the chances luggage scans will find your laptop bomb.

                Obviously we are talking about

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Did the US officials bring their laptops and tables as cabin luggage on this trip to Europe?

  • The airlines don't want to take liability for laptops that get lost / stolen / broken in the cargo hold.

    And if they force to you check them then they will be forced to take liability for them.

    • Not just laptops, but also expensive camera gear. I've got over $5,000 worth of lenses and cameras that I travel with, and my sister-in-law carries about $10,000 worth of gear. This has us seriously rethinking future travel plans, sticking with destinations we can drive to.
      • You're not doing the old starter pistol in the checked camera bag trick? It's legally a gun and needs to be inspected and then locked, it's carefully monitored until it gets back in your hands and unlocked.

        • I had a Police lieutenant acquaintance have gun stolen from a locked gun case flying out of Philly to New Orleans ten years ago. They know the theft occurred while still in Philly, yet were still unable to find out who did it, even with all the cameras and surveillance. The case arrived in NO, still locked, but empty. http://www.warriortalk.com/sho... [warriortalk.com] It hasn't gotten any better since then. Also, flying into foreign countries with differing gun laws might not be a good idea.
  • Remember united beaks guitars ? Think about United breaks macbooks. not to mention the infosec people at many companies melting down over executives lousing control over there laptops for that long ext.
    • Well, if those infosec people did their job their would be strong encryption on the laptop and always a backup available.
  • There might be a concealed bomb on the laptop...also known as the battery. I'm not even talking about some cheap chinese crap failing and melting down. You crack the casing and stab it with a pen. Tada, instant pyrotechnics. That could probably do some damage at least to the air in the plane if not the plane's actual structure.
    • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

      It should be even easier to carry multiple phones and bend them with your bare hands during the trip. Instead of one large fire, you could set multiple smaller but still very aggressive fires. So where is this going to stop?

      I think the real purpose is to dissuade people from flying into or out of the U.S. so we can become more isolationist.

  • This ban is economical. Trying to protect Lufthansa, British Air and other European flag carriers against the competition of Gulf, Emirates and Turkish on long-haul flights. Security in Istanbul Ataturk airport is three tiered while you get through one check point in Barcelona (for example)

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