Trump wants to ban laptops on flights from Europe: why is it dangerous?

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Al-Qaeda reports that work is being done on disguising explosives as computer parts

AP

First they came for liquids. Now the new obsession to preserve the security of the United States is something, in appearance, innocuous but fundamental for those who travel for business: the computer.

The background was set by the Middle East countries earlier this year. President Donald Trump advanced a ban to limit the entry of citizens of some Middle Eastern countries into the country. For the rest of the region, the use of personal computers on board was prohibited, a real problem for many who travel with them and who need them at destination. There was one caveat: computers could be dispatched.

Now it would be the turn of flights from European countries. Because of the advance of terrorism in that continent and some treaties that limit the use of security forces to protect borders, the United States is considering including them in the list of regions that will be restricted its ability to carry a computer over in line flights. Although not yet confirmed, European airlines are already preparing for a possible Homeland Security announcement.

This could affect the frequency of flights between the two regions. “Demand for transatlantic flights could fall in the United States and in Europe, especially as many will not feel safe traveling,” says Cecilia Minges, a spokeswoman for Air Help, an industry-based claims company.

Where does fear come from?

But, why the sudden fear of laptops in the cockpit of the plane? Why do not the limitations apply to flights in warehouse as well?

The answer is complicated but possibly devastating for those who travel for work with their computers (not only because they need them on board to work but because, when they are lowered into the hold, the risk of them breaking is greater).

In principle, it responds to al Qaeda reports that they were working on concealing explosives to resemble computer parts. The screening process – that is, in which the computer is removed from the backpack and passed through an X-ray machine – would not necessarily be sufficient to detect the danger.

Different is the case with the bags that travel in the warehouse, which go through a different inspection process that does allow the detection of the presence of certain explosives.

As many terrorist attacks leave Europe – and with the current refugee crisis preventing clear control of their borders – the Trump administration is eyeing the region, trying to mitigate attacks.

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