Here’s What The DHS Secretary Says About Expansion Of The Electronics Ban

Filed Under: Security/TSA, Travel Technology

We’ve been getting some very mixed signals when it comes to a potential expansion of the electronics ban. While an electronics ban has been in place for flights from select countries in the Middle East to the US since late March, for weeks there have been rumors of such a ban being extended to flights from Europe as well.

At one point reliable sources even indicated that such an announcement was just days away. However, just under two weeks ago the BBC reported that a meeting happened in Brussels between the US and key European security officials regarding the expansion of this, and that during the meeting they agreed not to extend the electronics ban to flights from Europe.

Unfortunately that report may not have been completely accurate. While the BBC was correct that the ban wouldn’t be expanded to European flights immediately, since then I’ve been hearing that an expanded electronics ban is an almost certain thing, and that it’s a function of when, and not if.

Anyway, CNN’s Jake Tapper interviewed Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly on his show last night, and the possibility of the electronics ban being extended was brought up. Per the interview:

When asked whether it is true that he has hinted the laptop ban could expand to US soil, Kelly said that those characterizations of his thinking are accurate.

“No, they didn’t misread me,” he answered. “I would tell you that the threats against passenger aviation worldwide are constant. The good news is that we have great intelligence collection overseas — US intelligence collection. We also have great sharing with partners overseas. So, we are doing everything we can to get after these threats — but they are real.”

“The protocol where we put large electronic devices down inside the cargo compartments, … I made that decision based on intelligence from a certain part of the world — sophisticated threats,” Kelly said Friday. “We are now looking at kind of a worldwide hard look at raising the bar, the minimum bar, on aviation security. So, still contemplating extending the ban, as we work with partners.”

While (understandably) nothing is being confirmed or denied here, it sounds like this is still very much on the table, and may even apply to flights departing US soil, rather than just foreign flights that are bound for the US.

So while I’m happy this hasn’t been introduced yet, it seems like the possibility of an expanded electronics ban is very real, and could even impact flights from the US.

It’s definitely too early to celebrate…

  1. Also I heard this would be extend to Domestic flights in the US. Which makes sense. You can’t just ban electronics on board for flights going from Europe, why would it be safe to have it for flights leaving the US, that would make no sense.

    So it would also make sense to apply it domestically, then lets see how people react.

  2. Yes. They should extend it to all USA domestic flights immediately in order to Trump the fantasian forces.

  3. No matter how “real” the threat might be, placing numerous lithium-ion batteries in the hold is a much greater threat.

    At what point will we stop treating terrorism as something that can be wiped out and start treating it as something we attempt to manage and minimize the impact of? We don’t seek to “defeat bank robbery” or “defeat stabbings”. Rather, we attempt to minimize their occurrence, punish perpetrators, and, ideally, fix the underlying societal issues that lead to these criminal actions. And let’s face it, even more than “regular crime”, terrorism is really the byproduct of societal issues, not the main problem itself.

  4. not to mention gun violence….

    “and that it’s a function of if, and not when” I think you have that backwards. It’s a question of when not if.

  5. Lucky wrote: “I’ve been hearing that an expanded electronics ban is an almost certain thing, and that it’s a function of if, and not when.”

    Pretty sure you mean “… not if, but when.”

  6. Whatever the imaginary issue is, why not upgrade the x-ray equipment to deal with it, and stop burdening the traveler ? This crap of TSA asking us to declutter our carry-on, including removing “paper” is unbelievable. Time to replace that x-ray personnel with a computer.

  7. Ordered a hardside carry on yesterday morning in anticipation of a possible ban and plan to use it here forward. Not comfortable checking electronics in soft side, unlocked luggage. I felt a bit of panic a few weeks ago while working in Europe when the announcement was made that the ban would go into effect quickly. Was happy to get home last week with my laptop, iPad and camera intact and in my carry on.

  8. So much winning. Especially if you are a terrorist.

    If they insist on doing this – they ought to also develop and put into place a cleared traveler program – think GE with an additional level of background check, and then couple that with enhanced explosive checks at the security checkpoints. But no, we’ll just jump to a blanket, one-size-fits-all “solution.”

  9. Cause and effect.
    We spend far too much time and wasted effort on trying to rectify the effect without spending quality time on the root cause.

    Meanwhile, the band aid industries are making money off this…

  10. I’m writing this on my laptop, in the air right now. I think that there needs to be some reasonable outlet for business travellers to use laptops or ipads – at least in premium cabins. I only fly premium business/first and I find it extremely worrisome leaving my laptop with gulf states aviation security, I have multi-million dollar merger documents and vitally important business oriented confidential information on my laptop, I can’t leave it at home, and what’s the point of champagne and ala carte meals if you’re too busy worrying about what’s in the hold. If this becomes global and permanent, we very well may see desktop access options like built in computers on super-premium planes one day. Could be an interesting development in the aviation world.

  11. Just wondering if Israel has the same or similar ban. They deal with terror threats on a daily basis.

  12. Yes I believe that better solutions could and should be developed. If they can screen checked luggage better why not use the same technology at the security check in. I really like the idea of built in laptops in business/first class. That said I am not willing to be blown up in the air because people are unwilling to be without their laptop for a few hours. If you are worried about security on the “checked” laptop perhaps a thumb drive would be more handy to store confidential information. Phones are pretty good computers these days…not as convenient but better than a cleaned up terrorist flying business class using my flight to go to paradise .

  13. Admittedly, I know very little about security risks for flying passengers. I have some common sense, and I don’t quite understand why electronic equipment couldn’t be scanned and returned to the passenger rather than be scanned and placed in the hold (with the accompanying lithium batteries). I just returned from Europe, and at CPH I was first required to fill out a form ONLY if a US citizen, and then after being screened at security, my baggage and I were searched again at the gate. I was told that the US government had asked that all returning US passengers have this additional screening “to protect your country from terrorists.” I stood and watched and no one other than US citizens were required to endure this additional screening even though we were all going to travel on the same plane. I am in my late 60s and have had two joint replacements. What is my government doing? I think I’ll tweet the” real” Donald Trump…

  14. A few years ago, I went through pre-check in AMS and had to turn on my camera, my cell phone and my iPad, to prove they worked as designed. Why wouldn’t a screening like that suffice to distinguish between a battery compartment packed with explosives, vs. the original battery? I also hate the idea of lithium batteries filling the hold, and I won’t travel with my expensive camera gear getting thrown around or left vulnerable to theft. But it’s a long boat ride to southern Africa!

  15. When will americans realize that minding their own business and avoiding meddling in foreign conflicts is the better choice? Maybe the laptop ban will be a reminder to take a step back and look at the bigger picture and where we are headed.

  16. Let’s have a laptop and smartphone ban for Donald the Trump instead. That would increase security much more.

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