Daily Management Review

US to expand the airline electronics ban


The United States is planning to expand the ban on transporting electronics on aircraft board, Now, it will affect flights from Europe.

The US Department of Homeland Security does not exclude a possibility of imposing a ban on import of electronic devices on flights from Europe to the United States.

According to the NY Times, with reference to the agency’s representative, this initiative will expand previously introduced rules that prohibit transportation of laptops and other large equipment on planes flying to America from eight Muslim countries.

The ban could affect large US carrier companies, including United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and the American Airlines Group. According to Reuters, six officials from Europe and the United States said they expect the department’s official statement on this issue, but refused to specify the exact date.

According to preliminary data, Interior Security Minister John Kelly will address the senators with a report on threats in the near future. He is planning to pay a special attention to the subject of air travel and related security problems.

The department’s speaker stressed that so far, there is no final decision on introduction of new restrictions, but did not exclude a possibility of extending such sanctions in the future.

An American official who asked to remain anonymous said that the airlines have been negotiating with the authorities for several weeks about a possible ban on transporting equipment from Europe. He pointed to some problems related to logistics, for example, tracing passengers who are "docking" in European countries, but have begun their journey in the Middle East or Africa.

One of the reasons for the ban’s extension was the fear that radical citizens of the European Union or people with dual citizenship could target planes heading to the United States.

In recent years, the US authorities have given serious thought to the problem of such passengers. In 2016, former US President Barack Obama amended a programme that allowed citizens of 38 countries, mostly European ones, to visit the United States without a visa if their trip lasts less than three months.

After the amendments were introduced, access to America became more difficult for travelers from Europe if they have visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen during the last five years, and also if they have one more citizenship in the listed countries.

Another reason for the electronics ban may be the skepticism of the US authorities in relation to the immigration policy of the European Union.

The first ban on transportation of technical devices on board aircraft sent to the US was introduced in March and touched ten airports in eight Muslim countries - Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE. Restrictions did not affect portable medical devices and smartphones. All the rest of electronics, as well as that "larger than a mobile phone", must be checked in.

At that time, officials did not name the official reason for the restrictions, citing a general unstable situation and reports of possible terrorist threats received. Some felt that the ban could be imposed because of the danger of ignition of lithium-ion batteries inside smartphones, which could lead to an explosion on board. 

However, later media told that the US intelligence agencies are afraid of explosive devices hidden in laptops.

The US intelligence has learned that terrorist organizations allegedly invented a new way of laying explosives in electronic devices and gadgets that helps them bypass some of the security measures.

Terrorists can hide an explosive device inside the laptop battery compartment, which can continue to function normally, allowing it to successfully pass scanners and frames installed at airports around the world. 

source: nytimes.com