Trump administration’s U.S. ban on laptops and tablets on flights from Europe ‘off the table,’ for now

“Talks on a proposed U.S. ban on laptops and tablets in flights from Europe ended Wednesday with no ban — and a promise of more talks and better intelligence sharing,” The Associated Press reports. “For days now, European Union officials have been hoping for details on the threat that prompted the proposed ban — the same details that U.S. President Donald Trump discussed with Russian diplomats at the White House last week.”

“On Wednesday, in a secure room in Brussels, officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the European Union swapped information about threats involving air travel. An official who followed the talks said the ban was ‘off the table’ for now,” AP reports. “The White House has defended Trump’s decision to share classified information involving an Islamic State group terror threat related to the use of laptops on aircraft with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador.”

“Such a ban would dwarf in size the current one, which was put in place in March and affects about 50 flights a day from 10 cities, mostly in the Middle East,” AP reports. “There is also the question of the relative safety of keeping a large number of electronics with lithium batteries, which have been known to catch fire, in the cargo area. IATA proposed more in-depth pre-flight screening rather than forcing passengers to give up their electronics.”

“Nonetheless, airlines have said it is merely a matter of time before the ban is put in place,” AP reports. “Experts say a bomb in the cabin would be easier to make and require less explosive force than one in the cargo hold. In addition, baggage in cargo usually goes through a more sophisticated screening process than carry-on bags.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote yesterday:

Here’s an idea: How about spending some money on methods and devices to identify actual laptops from bombs disguised as laptops at check-in? Sheesh, trained dogs can do it, right? … And, forget the terrorists for a second: What happens if just one damaged lithium battery out of hundreds of laptops aboard each flight (too many of them very shoddily-made Windows PCs) decides to ignite in the hold?

Trump administration considers expanding laptop ban in Europe; would cost airline passengers $1.1 billion – May 17, 2017
Trump admin considers widening electronics carry-on ban to European airports; nothing larger than iPhone permitted in cabin – May 11, 2017
US-UK electronic devices ban on planes came after plot to make iPad bomb uncovered – March 27, 2017
Trump administration bans iPads, laptops and other devices in cabin on flights from certain Middle Eastern airports; Britain follows suit – March 21, 2017


  1. It might be possible to introduce technology and regulations to only allowing specific models of devices to be carried as cabin baggage.

    If an approved device were x-rayed, but crucially, that x-ray machine used a reference image for comparison and any deviation from the standard configuration could be highlighted. The machine could also weigh the device and check that it was exactly as expected. Any device failing to be exactly as expected would be subjected to much more extensive scrutiny and could be banned from being carried.

    If a passenger wanted to carry a device that wasn’t listed, it would have to go in the hold and be subjected to the enhanced checks that are routinely carried out on checked luggage.

    1. Unfortunately, that would mean that everyone who has ever, for example, replaced their MBP’s optical drive with an SSD, would forever after be subjected to additional, and unnecessary, scrutiny. Good intention; not so good implementation.

      1. If the ban goes into effect, none of the people with nonstandard or modified devices are getting them into the cabin in any case. Why would they (legitimately) care if the great majority who have unmodified devices are not similarly inconvenienced?

        Any of you bright guys out there have better ideas?

      2. That’s exactly the point.

        If you want to carry electronic devices in the cabin, they will have to be exactly as they were when they left the factory. If checks reveal that you have changed something, then there is no knowing what else might have been changed.

        It’s also worth pointing out that the number of ordinary people who modify their devices is very small indeed and devices that have been repaired by third parties might also fall foul of such a stringent test, but if it’s made clear that the only devices allowed in the cabin are specified models of unmodified devices which have never been repaired, then at least it provides a clear and simple guideline for what can be carried within the cabin.

        Anything not meeting the specification will have to go as checked baggage and there might have to be a system of segregating electronic devices in the hold and carrying them inside fire and blast-resistant enclosures.

        There could be an advantage in segregating electronic devices at check-in because they would have to be be identified and tagged when you check in and therefore their movements can be tracked, unlike the present arrangement where stuff within your baggage may be stolen by airport staff and there is no way of knowing where along the journey the device was stolen. Some insurers do not currently pay out for electronic devices stolen from checked luggage, so if you’re not allowed to carry them in cabins, something needs to be done to guarantee that they will not be stolen en route.

    1. Israel does not have constitutional provisions that prohibit all discrimination on the basis of religion. It is an avowedly Jewish state, while the U.S. is an avowedly nonsectarian state. Repealing the First and Fourteenth Amendments would be fairly complicated.

      1. The President can ban whoever the fuck he wants, like Obama banned most Christian refugees. Progressives don’t give a shit about the constitution anyway, funny that it’s an issue now, same with “Tweaaasooon!”

        1. It might be nice, just once, to have someone cite some actual facts, rather than “my wife’s hairdresser saw it on the Internet.”

          No, the President cannot ban anyone he wants. He has to follow the law—not only the Constitution but also the various statutes passed by Congress—just like everybody else. There happen to be laws that prohibit discriminating between potential immigrants purely on the grounds of their religion. You may not like it, and the President may not like it, but there it is.

          We do not have one-man rule in this country, yet… no matter how many foul-mouthed authoritarians wish it otherwise.

        2. You are such a Richard, Nick. The powers of the President and the Administrative branch of the U.S. federal government have bounds. Those bounds have already been stretched by previous Administrations (such as War Powers). But TRUMPanzee wants to convert the office of President into office of the puerile Dictator.

          No thanks!

          Personally, I am sick and tired of all of the terrorist fear-mongering propagated by the GOP. You do realize that the GOP is promoting a “Big Brother” concept to “protect” you from terrorists, don’t you? I would rather take my chances with terrorists than give up everything that makes this country special.

          Go profile yourself, Richard.

      2. Sharia law allows slavery, this is against the 13th Amendment. If you are a muslim and you don’t practice sharia law, you are not practicing Islam.

        f islam and f allah.

    2. Anybody who has ever flown to Israel on El Al will know the extraordinary security arrangements that all passengers have to meet.

      The initial security checks and searches are unusually thorough and before boarding the aircraft, all the luggage is lined up on the tarmac and you have to identify your bags and only at that point do they get loaded onto the aircraft.

      This procedure is not unique to Muslims, it applies to all passengers of all religions – and I don’t recall ever being asked my religion anyway.

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