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Cory Doctorow:

Unnamed “officials briefed on the matter” told Reuters that the Trump administration is planning to ban travelers from bringing their laptops – and possibly tablets – in their hand-luggage on flights from Europe, expanding an existing ban that covers 10 middle-eastern airports.

I have personally seen reliable reports of US-bound travelers from Istanbul being surprised at the gate with a command to put their laptops into padded envelopes that were transferred to a hardsided suitcase that was placed in the baggage hold for the flight. This system was reportedly chaotic and ad-hoc.

The UK is reportedly considering a reciprocal rule that would ban laptops in the cabin for flights from the US to the UK. Naturally, other European nations may follow suit.

Given the history of this kind of shitty security thinking, I will now make a prediction: within a year, there will be a “trusted traveler” program that lets well-off people submit to a background check and pay a fee, and in exchange get the right to bring their laptops onto planes. This will defuse the pressure from politically influential businesspeople to reform the situation, allowing it to get much, much worse for infrequent travelers without triggering any meaningful political blowback. What’s more, “trusted traveler” will be awarded gratis to people who hold elite flier status or qualify for exclusive credit cards like the Amex Platinum card, as a “bonus.”

I also predict that five years from today, some version of this policy will still be in place.

Are you hungry yet?

Paul Ciano

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