[–] GuiA link

This. And also people not having devices on their person means they can't quickly text friends/family if they get detained/mistreated/etc.

It seems like we're getting closer and closer to being in a situation where people who can should avoid going to the US at all, and make their reasoning known. Ie, refuse to give talks, attend conferences, etc. in the US.

reply

[–] akie link

This is already happening. I'm in Europe and I've heard quite a few friends (mostly academics) state that they're actively avoiding traveling to the US.

reply

[–] emanreus link

I have to admit some border crossing incidents[1] are what I would imagine entering North Korea would be like, not the US.

[1][10min audio] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDYMw1p8s9M

reply

[–] mgbmtl link

As someone from Canada, that guy was being a total dick, very aggressive, mansplaining the agent, which isn't surprising that it would trigger the customs agent. He would have had the same response from an agent at the border in Canada.

Ex: "what shops are you planning to go to". It's fine to answer "I don't know yet". They're just testing behaviour. If you start being defensive or aggressive, pretend to know their jobs better than they, etc, it's suspicious. Although yes, in general, the US agents are really bad at doing behaviour testing.

Anecdotal: Last year, I crossed the border a few times by car, visiting a friend I met on Tinder. I completely got away with it, giving honest answers at the border. Recently met someone else (a girl) who was stopped and accused of prostitution for doing the exact same thing. :/

reply

[–] KirinDave link

Yes, well...

You may not understand quite how much most Americans hate CBP. I use "hate" here deliberately. It represents the worst part of our government and a codification of our racist laws and culture even at the best of times.

They find a way to weaponize ignorance and shame people who are different at every turn. They have tackled people and held them at gunpoint for LED shirts, they've publicly shamed women for having vibrators in their luggage, they've delayed flights because people speak Tolkien's elvish leaving comicon.

And their definition of sincere risk? Brown people or people who are different. They can detain Americans and non-Americans alike without due process and stories report they do just to make a point.

And the worst part? They are bad at their jobs. The FBI is a problematic institution as well, but at least they can point to data that suggests they're doing things here and there to actually foil people who genuinely want to cause domestic problems.

Even conservative Americans hate the TSA and CBP face to face. We're all scared of them, because we know they're stupid and bad at their jobs but terribly powerful.

reply

[–] tonyarkles link

No doubt! My general strategy for crossing borders is to expect to be hassled a little bit, and to accordingly make sure that I have a good amount of patience stored up ahead of time. It took him about 3 seconds to get irritated.

reply

[–] cat199 link

> "I completely got away with it"

No, because you didn't do anything wrong.

Border crossing is not a crime, last I checked, despite the best efforts of some to make it feel that way.

reply

[–] mgbmtl link

Agreed, I was being bitter/sarcastic. I meant to say that they incorrectly profiled the other person who was stopped.

reply

[–] emanreus link

It's a bit sad that such behavior is normalized to the point that such a trivial thing is escalated to someone being locked up. Maybe it's some kind of strange taste for masochism that I don't understand. I'm not trying to be offensive or anything, I really don't understand why is such a hostile, aggressive and demeaning behavior accepted as a norm.

Contrast that to this (6min): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV-wgZBGfCo

None of those stories are that important in and of themselves, it's the whole normalized atmosphere of fear, guilt and almost agony that I don't understand.

reply

[–] emj link

When I cross borders I'm almost always very tired, very stressed, I feel dirty and nauseous. These are things that make handling other people difficult for me.

Of course there is going to be someone who reacts badly, but you would think that they have professionals at the border that know this, from what I've seen when disembarking in London there are people who know how to handle these things. I've seen the same situation being descalated in 10 seconds.

I'm guessing there is little pay and pride to be had for a border guard in the US, so little incentive for being anything else than a git.

reply

[–] jbmorgado link

Exactly how is the guy "mansplaining"? Seems like the term is now being used to every interaction between a men and a women if the men just doesn't accept absolutely everything the women tells him to do - no matter how idiotic - without arguing in is own favour.

reply

[–] emanreus link

On second thought, the cynic in me is saying you're just laying the groundwork for your next encounter with customs agents in case you have to hand over your online accounts :)

reply

[–] mgbmtl link

I rarely defend customs agents. I'm sure they could flag me just by looking at my public twitter posts, which use my real name. I have already decided to avoid the US anyway.

However, Canada can be just as bad. Bottom line: know the law, be polite/calm, travel light, be honest but keep answers at a minimum. Unfortunately, since I travel often for business, that means I've spent way too much time at social events exchanging about travel tips, rather than actual productive conversation. It's also silly that we're adding barriers instead of removing them. What a waste :(

reply

[–] rjsw link

I started doing this 10 years ago, the recent changes haven't made me want to reconsider.

reply

[–] chronicx0 link

This is not a problem considering most worldwide science and research advancements come from USA, China, Japan, or Korea. The academics can stay in Europe. The US companies will acquire them anyway.

reply

[–] hysan link

Closer and closer? How about it's already happened.

I just visited some of my friends in Japan, many of whom wanted to visit me in the US once their children got a bit older, and they all said they are straight up frightened of simply trying to enter the US. These are some of the most upstanding people you can meet with jobs like being teachers, government employees, etc. They are the last people who should be afraid of being found as suspicious persons, yet the reality is that based on what they see in the news, I can't blame them.

reply

[–] samirillian link

Here's the thing about leaving Japan: it's always way more dangerous than staying in Japan. US homicide rate is like 10x higher. I'd bet your "upstanding" friends have layers of reservations about visiting.

reply

[–] GuiA link

Japanese crime rates are underreported, and in reality most likely very similar to northern European countries in term of safety (and many other things, such as birth rate, another oft repeated misconception).

Popular culture likes to portray Japan as a weird outlier country- but that's only if you compare it to the US. If you include the aforementioned European countries in the comparison, the US is the weird country.

reply

[–] Karlozkiller link

I dno about comparable to northern Europe. Stockholm, Sweden has recently had a huge burst in deadly shootings, and a Swedish official got caught in trying to lie to the BBC saying that rape is decreasing in Sweden. Official statistics show an increase between the last two data points, the last one being from 2015 or 2016 if I recall correctly.

I have bit heard anything of the like in Japan, but as you say it could be because they don't have the same measures/report rate we have, or that I don't check Japanese statistics as much.

reply

[–] ConceptJunkie link

And the U.S. violence rates are really skewed. If you remove about half a dozen large cities, the U.S. rate for homicides, etc., is much more in line with the rest of the first world.

reply

[–] astrodust link

Certain crimes are under-reported, but on the whole even accounting for that crime rates are significantly lower for the sorts of petty crime that impact most people.

reply

[–] emj link

Crime rate in the US is not an issue, but when talking about travelling in to the US advice like leaving your phone at home etc is quite common. That does influence some people, not to a big degree yet, but it's not getting better atm is it?

reply

[–] wowsig link

The report said that cellphones are allowed. Agree with the avoiding US part. I'm currently reading a book on the state of physics under the third reich and the parallels on the state looking inwardly are chilling.

reply

[–] GuiA link

What's the book?

reply

[–] mgbmtl link

I cancelled my participation in a free software conference this year, but I doubt it will be much noticed except by the core team (I help with internationalization). I also didn't make too much noise about it, not to harm the event/community. Most of our European partners already do not bother going to the US and organise their own conference.

You may notice is less and less diversity, but it's already pretty low, and we're often not very good at noticing that.

reply

[–] bzbarsky link

Cell phones are excluded from the ban, according to this article. That makes it highly unlikely that prevention of ability to text is the goal. I know very few people who text on their tablet, laptop, or camera.

reply

[–] KirinDave link

Cell phones are most likely excluded because they're so obnoxiously hard to compromise compared to laptops. Cell phones, you need per-hardware exploits and the vendors patch aggressively.

When was the last time your laptop's USB controllers had a firmware upgrade for security hardening?

reply

[–] bzbarsky link

That's a reasonable argument if the goal is being able to examine the devices. Nothing to do with texting, though. ;)

reply

[–] KirinDave link

They already confiscate devices. I'm not sure that there is much to be gained by banning phones. The absence of a report coupled with the publicly available info of landing is probably enough to signal trouble.

reply

[–] hanspragt link

Cell phones are excluded from the ban, according to the article.

reply

[–] virtuabhi link

For now. According to the article.

reply

[–] PietdeVries link

interestingly, you see airlines moving away from in-flight entertainment screens in the seat in front of you, in favor of BYOD. A logical move: let the clients bring their equipment (they bring it anyway) so you don't have to (install, maintain, spend fuel on, etc.).

Now with airlines actually removing in flight entertainment, flying from the Middle East to New York can be quite a long trip: no laptop to watch a movie, no screen in front of you.

I guess the US will stop banning as soon as one of these policy-makers is on the same flight as a few bored kids ;-)

reply

[–] joshgel link

Maybe people will have to read books?!

reply

[–] madengr link

True, it some like myself can't read on a plane due to motion sickness. Watching a video is fine, but not focusing on text.

reply

[–] deckiedan link

My mum noticed that if she sets her kindle to 2 or so sizes larger text, she doesn't get motion sick any more.

reply

[–] theandrewbailey link

I've never finished reading more than a page in a moving car without feeling nauseous.

reply

[–] brogrammernot link

Yes. I love to read books on a 17 hour flight instead of being able to watch TV shows, work on programming problems offline or the countless other productive things that a laptop can provide.

reply

[–] ihsw2 link

That would be great if airlines provided standard power outlets and/or USB ports.

reply

[–] freeone3000 link

Canada Air does! It's great.

reply

[–] freeone3000 link

Canada Air does! It's great.

reply

[–] BrailleHunting link

Trump will flip-flop on this mercurially 7x before breakfast while watching the "PDB" on TV (aka Fox and Friends).

reply

[–] noir_lord link

> It seems like we're getting closer and closer to being in a situation where people who can should avoid going to the US at all.

For me already well past that point, no way would I travel to the US for any reason, work or pleasure.

I'm from the UK and I'm seriously contemplating getting out of here while the going is good as well.

reply

[–] saiya-jin link

no conferences, never ever will feel the need to work in US since there are simply better places with true freedom out there (nordic countries, switzerland and so on) but we will vote with our wallets - unless political climate changes drastically, no vacation in US.

couple of thousands of bucks spent in local US economy over couple of weeks is a drop in the ocean, but hey, ocean is made of drops anyway.

reply

[–] razzaj link

Makes sense. However, how is that going to protect the US? The moment such information is public, perpetrators will not transport any digital devices with incriminating data. What you re left with are people being harrassed over a digital copy of "how to make a potato launcher" on their laptops.

Frankly, it seems the US policing practices have been looking more and more USSR like. And i dont just mean since trump arrived to power.

reply

[–] michaelt link

  how is that going to protect the US? [...] perpetrators
  will not transport any digital devices with incriminating
  data.
Options include:

1. Bad guys with imperfect opsec (I see in your unallocated space there's a deleted TAILS ISO... onto a watchlist with you!)

2. Friends and relatives of bad guys (I see your nephew e-mailed you holiday photos from cybercafes near two different suspected terrorist training camps... onto a watchlist with him!) a bit like social media companies' 'shadow profiles'

3. Non-terrorist targets, like good old corporate espionage and political blackmail (Oh, you're a journalist/oil industry exec/prostitute? Let me just take a copy of your contacts, records and reports)

reply

[–] sneak link

Pretty sure from leaked XKEYSCORE rulesets, anyone who downloaded or googled "tails" is already on that list.

reply

[–] thrillgore link

The answer is simple: It doesn't protect the US at all.

reply

[–] abandonliberty link

>I'm going to start putting a USB nuke stick in my luggage in an envelope. Just for fun. Maybe I'll label the envelope something nonsensical like "12-16" just to make sure people know it's useless.

I love the idea but I can't help but think that even with a completely airtight reason to be traveling with that item (e.g. you're a security researcher) you would be accused of terrorism. Somehow.

reply

[–] exabrial link

That's the problem with Authoritarian (Liberal and Conservative) interpretations of the Constitution. USBkill sticks are non-regulated items, so you don't NEED the government's permission or a "good reason" to possess them.

Unfortunately, Liberals have weakened the 2nd Amendment to mean "only if you have a good reason", and weakened the 1st Amendment to mean "as long as you don't offend someone", while Conservatives have weakened the 4th amendment to mean "we suspected it without good cause and it turns out we were right which made the whole search ok."

I think if we stop weakening the ammendments we'll stop seeing violations of our basic civil liberties. But when California passes laws that regulate firearms you can wrap a thumb around (yes, this is a real thing), and Arizona passes a law that allows police to stop you if they suspect you're an illegal immigrant, we'll be in a slow spiral with decreasing rights.

reply

[–] abandonliberty link

I'd like you to explore the root cause behind your symptom: erosion of citizen rights.

The desire to strengthen old laws is interesting. Why is it that they seem better than the laws we can create today, given our advancements in education and ethics? Pining for the past due to the absence of 'something better'. Why does that 'something better' not exist?

Rights are granted with the intent to increase power/wealth for those who grant rights. Based on results, those in power no longer believe that granting rights to commoners is in their best interest.

Average citizens have less impact on that now. The constitution and amendments come from a time when they applied to fewer, more powerful people. The erosion of those rights is to be expected unless you're living in an altruistic utopia.

Highly recommend you watch CGP Grey's Rules for Rulers for another perspective.

reply

[–] AstralStorm link

Well they cannot yet force you to divulge encryption keys, right?

And your nuke device might be worthless if they install a firmware exploit that will work later.

reply

[–] kwhitefoot link

> Well they cannot yet force you to divulge encryption keys, right?

They might not be able to force you but it seems that they can lock you up indefinitely for contempt of court in the US and for they definitely can give you five years in the UK because it is a specific offence there under RIPA.

See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13919115 and https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6248902.

reply

[–] ChoGGi link

By nuke device he may have been referring to https://www.usbkill.com

https://youtu.be/X4OmkBYB4HY

reply

[–] crispyambulance link

> I'm going to start putting a USB nuke stick in my luggage

I don't see how that will be fun since the only way you would find out if "it worked" would be by getting pulled from your flight and detained.

reply

[–] joezydeco link

Hmm. A charge/discharge circuit with a voltage booster and very large capacitor in line?

Doesn't take a large stretch of the imagination for a CBP official to declare that a "detonation device". Now you're really screwed.

reply

[–] andygambles link

Wipe devices before packing.

Arrive in country then restore backup remotely.

reply

[–] DrJokepu link

This is bad advice I'm afraid. If you're an alien seeking admission to the United States it's your responsibility to prove that you don't have immigrant intent, not the CBP's responsibility that you do. By showing up at the border with a wiped device you will make it a lot easier for the CBP to build a case against you and put you on the next plane heading back.

reply

[–] foldr link

Not sure why this is being downvoted. Entering with a wiped device would be viewed as suspicious, rightly or wrongly.

reply

[–] saganus link

How would the border agents know it's a wiped device? Because it's missing everything and seems like a new phone?

What if I actually bought a new cheap phone because I'm afraid of getting robbed abroad, and even tell the agent?

I ask because I would think that being afraid of losing your expensive phone on a leisure trip is common enough and harmless enough (and totally real reason) that it wouldn't provoke or trigger an agent.

Or am I being delusional?

reply

[–] foldr link

>Because it's missing everything and seems like a new phone?

Yes. Remember, they don't need proof of anything. You're not on trial. It's largely up to the judgment of the individual officer whether or not someone can enter the US as a visitor.

If they ask you why there's nothing on your phone, you'd better be able to convince them that it's for some other reason than "I don't want you to see it". Can you do that? Well, it depends on how persuasive you are and whether the officer is in a good mood that day.

reply

[–] saganus link

Well, shit.

I mean, I've been buying burner phones when crossing to the US since several years ago, just because I do am afraid of getting mugged and losing everything while traveling, and since every trip to the US has been for vacation, I really didn't need anything on my phone other than emergency contacts (insurance, etc) and my reservation numbers for whatever I was going to visit.

So hopefully if I ever travel to the US again, and they want to check my phone, I hope they really believe me when I Tell them the truth... but like you said, it will depend on the judgment of the agent so I guess I'm screwed anyways if they want me to be so.

This is just... wow.

reply

[–] foldr link

It's not really that wow. There's always a lot of judgment involved in admission of visitors. It's never been an entirely fair and transparent process.

reply

[–] DrJokepu link

If they're searching your phone, it's likely that you're already in secondary inspection. At that point if you're an alien they're already suspecting that you're inadmissible and they are trying to build a case. They will ask a lot of questions in secondary inspection. If they search your phone and find that it's wiped, they will ask about it and they will expect a convincing explanation.

CBP officers working in secondary inspection to this all day, every day, they know what they're looking for, they will lie to you if necessary and chances are that they have heard the same explanations many times already. Secondary inspection is not a pleasant experience at all and you don't want to make it worse by trying to outsmart people who do this for a living.

reply

[–] saganus link

This is definitely very scary and I didn't mean to say that I would try to outsmart them because as you say, they do this for a living and I'm not a professional liar/spy.

However I think my case still applies in the sense that I would expect a lot of people to also buy a burner phone for a vacation trip just as a way to avoid loss in the event of a robbery, instead of as a way to try to outsmart border agents, so I would hope I would not be alone in giving them this reason as to why my phone is clean.

You raise a good argument though. If I'm already in secondary inspection I guess anything you give them or fail to give them will in any case be used against me, basically depending on the mood of the agent at that time.

I guess an interesting statistic to know (not that government would publish it willingly...) would be how many people that went through secondary inspection where denied access and how many of them were not.

reply

[–] DrJokepu link

They actually release these numbers: https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/CBP_DHS_20...

Out of the 375 million passengers processed in FY 2014, 34 million was referred to secondary inspection and about 223,000 was found inadmissible. Keep in mind that these numbers also include US citizens who cannot be found inadmissible, but could be referred to secondary inspection for other reasons.

reply

[–] saganus link

Interesting!

So ~10% get secondary inspection, and of those ~0.65% where found inadmissible (non-citizen as you point out).

Not sure how to feel about it. On the one hand 10% sounds like "not so bad" in that it's actually a minority getting secondary inspections.

On the other hand... if I'm waiting for border agents to let me through and 1 in 10 will get secondary inspections, which by the looks of it would include access to your accounts and such, it sounds like a terribly high percentage.

reply

[–] titraprutr link

Until it becomes a norm among travellers.

reply

[–] foldr link

It won't, though. Way too inconvenient for most people.

reply

[–] ddalex link

That's why you don't wipe your device. You have a normal laptop with a nice FB profile and Google history to show, and when you're in, you cab download the VM image and continue work.

reply

[–] jungletek link

If the 'goal' of this policy is, as postulated elsewhere in the thread, to allow physical access to devices in order to deliver malware, etc., then how would you know your wiped device hadn't acquired a bootkit along the way?

Using a parcel-handling service, gov't or private, along with some tamper-indication of the package interior seems much safer, though not perfect by any means.

reply

[–] ju-st link

My plan is to leave my devices back home. In the US electronics is usually cheaper so I would buy a MacBook and download my personal data from the cloud. After returning home I would sell the MacBook for a nice profit.

reply

[–] tirant link

Or simply return the Macbook back to the shop.

reply

[–] int_19h link

Having a device that looks wiped is grounds for suspicion in and of itself these days. In some cases, enough to turn someone away (remember, they can always do that to non-citizens, and you have very little recourse if they do).

reply

[–] necessity link

Care to cite an example where this actually happened? I've brought wiped devices countless times.

reply

[–] arm link

http://www.dailyxtra.com/canada/news-and-ideas/news/us-custo...

(HN thread: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13702981)

Specifically, this part:

A month later, André attempted to fly to New Orleans again. This time, he brought what he thought was ample proof that he was not a sex worker: letters from his employer, pay stubs, bank statements, a lease agreement and phone contracts to prove he intended to return to Canada.

When he went through secondary inspection at Vancouver airport, US Customs officers didn’t even need to ask for his passwords — they were saved in their own system. But André had wiped his phone of sex apps, browser history and messages, thinking that would dispel any suggestion he was looking for sex work. Instead, the border officers took that as suspicious.

“They went through my computer. They were looking through Word documents,” André says. “I had nude photos of myself on my phone, and they were questioning who this person was. It was really humiliating and embarrassing.”

“They said, ‘Next time you come through, don’t have a cleared phone,’ and that was it. I wasn’t let through. He said I’m a suspected escort. You can’t really argue with them because you’re trapped,” he says.

He wasn’t necessarily declined solely because he wiped the phone (they already suspected him due to the previous encounter), but they made it pretty clear they don’t like it since they considered that reason enough to not let him through a second time despite all the supporting paperwork.

reply

[–] sneak link

How do you do that with 1.5TB of video? My Lightroom library of stills alone is 900GB.

Have you ever used hotel wifi?

Give me a break.

reply

[–] Faaak link

Obviously you only wipe sensitive data/documents, not movies or torrents

reply

[–] sneak link

The video and stills are things that I shot, most geotagged and datestamped. The video is frequently, uhh, sensitive.

What am I to do? Networks simply aren't fast enough to deal with my data sizes.

reply

[–] et-al link

(Minor note: I think you mean "from cabins but not from checked baggage")

reply

[–] KirinDave link

Quite right. Thanks.

reply

[–] felipemnoa link

>> Maybe I'll label the envelope something nonsensical like "12-16"

Label it "Very Bad USB" and put a bunch of noise in there. When you get detained tell them that you forgot the second part, "corrupts data"

reply

[–] sillysaurus3 link

USB nuke

Do you actually have one? I searched for a bit but it doesn't seem like they're sold.

https://kukuruku.co/post/usb-killer/

reply

[–] matheweis link

I am pretty sure you can buy them here (have never tried, though...) https://www.usbkill.com

My favorite is the USB-C one, because the USB-C spec supports 100W...

reply

[–] sillysaurus3 link

Thanks!

After huge demand, the USB Kill V3.0 comes in an anonymous version.

No branding - No logos - Generic Case. The anonymous version is perfect for penetration testers that require discretion.

There's no way this thing would be used in a pentest. It destroys computers. Generally pentesters try not to destroy the client's property.

Amusing way to frame it, though.

reply

[–] dTal link

"penetration testing" is usually a euphemism for "blackhat". "penetration testers that require discretion", doubly so.

reply

[–] rpmcmurphy link

If this was actually about a security risk, they would be doing this on all airlines, not just airlines originating from Muslim majority countries. If you take Royal Jordanian to a European hub, then hop on a US carrier, you'll be able to take your gear on board. So this does exactly what to mitigate a security risk?

It does however force business travelers to rethink flying Emirates, Etihad, etc and fly United, etc instead. I'll be interested to see if these airlines sue.

reply

[–] sneak link

There is also a slightly less scary reason, which also applies to liquids: it is harder to fashion a bomb together and set it off when you can't touch it.

A half gallon of petrol sitting inside your fake laptop in the hold is no biggie. A half gallon of petrol in the cabin is a whole different ballgame.

reply

[–] KirinDave link

I see many people here trying to puzzle out why electronics are under a partial ban from cabins but not from checked baggage. It's a good question, since if there is a fire or explosion hazard on a plane the last place you want it is wrapped in a wad of flammable cloth and synthetics, even if it is oxygen starved.

The only motivation I can imagine is: They want these devices in checked luggage because checked luggage can be inspected without recourse by customs, and without an on-site confrontation. With care, it can be done without even notifying the people who are being checked.

And given the pushback on social media credential disclosure and the reveal that the CIA (and presumably FBI and other agencies) have physical access exploits (probably via USB or DisplayPort) for most of these devices, this seems like a move who's only logical motivation could be easier digital inspection.

Remember, it's the position of the TSA and CBP that non-citizens don't have rights of any kind until they're allowed through customs, and by simply inspecting devices they're interested in quickly and without publicity or confrontation they will certainly be more effective at it.

I'm going to start putting a USB nuke stick in my luggage in an envelope. Just for fun. Maybe I'll label the envelope something nonsensical like "12-16" just to make sure people know it's useless. And in case I (or someone investigating my luggage) needs to plug something into a USB slot.

reply

[–] et-al link

As an anecdote, I've flown United and Turkish across the Atlantic and it's a world of difference.

In 2016, the United airplane I was in still did not have a seatback screen and they expected all 200+ passengers to connect to the wifi to try to get in-flight entertainment. Of course no one got on. So all of us were left craning our necks trying to catch a glimpse of whatever was on the CRT in the aisle.

Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines has a touchscreen interface with beautifully done transitions and an amazing selection of movies and music. I remember seeing Radiohead's Kid A on there, along with the Blade Runner soundtrack.

Next month, I'm flying to Berlin via Turkish even though it will take 4 more hours because the price and comfort are worth it. Only problem is, this electronics ban may compromise my electronics.

(And yes, I'm aware of early adopter pitfalls and government subsidies for airlines, but United has no qualms treating non-status passengers like trash.)

reply

[–] joshontheweb link

I'll never fly United again. I had a similar experience for 14 hours. It isn't just the in flight entertainment. In my experience their staff are rude and borderline incompetent. There must be a poor culture in the company as a whole. My wife just flew with them and went nearly 10 hours without a meal while she was flying with our two year old.

Edit: spelling

reply

[–] foldr link

My favorite United moment, immediately following a hard landing. Flight attendant (loud enough for a lot of people to hear): "That was the worst landing all year. They really should teach these guys to land the planes before they let them fly them."

reply

[–] linker3000 link

Don't get me started on United. I refuse to fly with them (LHR to SFO about 4 times a year) for a myriad of reasons, not limited to: food quality, delays, total failure of in-flight entertainment system and taking an extra 1.5 days to get me home (direct flight cancelled, so shunted via Dulles). I'm a tolerant person, but United excelled at pissing me off.

reply

[–] kw71 link

Yeah! I have been flying for decades. Delta seems to have a cycle of climbing to excellence and falling. United Air Lines has always made me miserable reliably.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] pm90 link

Agreed. Nearly every time there will be stewardesses who look like they have some kind of job guarantee or something and they don't even pretend to be polite. So much different from Southwest or even the other dirt cheap airlines (e.g. Frontier).

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] mbreese link

It sounds like you were on a fairly old United plane (CRTs in the aisle). While there are newer planes with seat-back screens, their newest planes eschew any sort of seat-back entertainment completely. At least on domestic flights, it's been a while since I've flown internationally.

This is a deliberate decision that airlines are starting to make. If most passengers are bringing a wifi-capable device (ipad, phone, etc), then why go to the extra expense (and weight) to support seat-back screens?

Now, my main experience with this has been flying within the US where none of the newest planes have screens. Internationally, there may still be screens included in newer planes, but when screens = weight, and weight = $$$, it's not surprising that they are getting removed. Moreover, screens = depth, which when removed can make room for more rows, which means more money.

If this electronics ban takes hold though, I'd expect for there to be a big rethink about this.

reply

[–] mcpherrinm link

Spirit airlines has the thinnest seats I've ever seen on an airplane. It's a metal sheet with thin foam and leather over it. Certainly no room for any seat-back entertainment.

I'll gladly let the airline shove more seats in by thinning them out, than by reducing my leg room any further.

https://www.sanspotter.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/las_sa...

reply

[–] et-al link

The problem was the wifi was incapable of handling all the passengers trying to connect throughout the entire flight from SFO to LHR. Even if I wanted to pay them money to watch a movie, I couldn't.

So United saved costs by not retrofitting their airplanes with seatback screens and by offering shit wifi.

Of course Louis CK would say: https://youtu.be/ZFsOUbZ0Lr0

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] kalleboo link

United is just a bad airline. I've had better service in Economy class on SWISS than I had in business on United.

reply

[–] enraged_camel link

Yep. Turkish Airlines is the 7th best airline in the world, and the best in Europe, according to Skytrax: http://www.airlinequality.com/news/2016-world-airline-awards...

reply

[–] RobinDublin link

In last 2 years Turkish Airlines had 3 serious accidents. In 2015 they have seriously damaged their plane twice during landing in Kathmandu and Istanbul. In 2017 they lost plane that they have been operating which killed all 4 crew members and at least 34 people on the ground when it crashed in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.[1]

Also their primary hub Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) was attacked in 2016, which left 45 people killed and more than 230 people injured.[2]

I am not sure what criteria they use to issue this award, but they do not look safe enough to me to be on the 7th best position in the world.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_Airlines#Incidents_and... [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Atat%C3%BCrk_Airport_atta...

reply

[–] et-al link

Dead people can't fill out surveys. ;)

I knew of the attack at Ataturk Airport and I'm fine with a layover there. I'd even change to a stopover to hang out in Istanbul again, but don't have the time this trip. If you can get over your fears and fly the two airlines, I'm sure you'll find Turkish to be a better experience than United.

reply

[–] jonesdc link

I flew United frequently before 2016 to Africa, Europe, and Asia and all the flights had full size screens in economy and economy plus. The handheld streaming is common for domestic flights.

reply

[–] karthikb link

747s are all streaming.

reply

[–] megablast link

> In 2016, the United airplane I was in still did not have a seatback screen

This just depends which plane you get. They all have new and old planes, you can get unlucky on any airline.

reply

[–] davidgay link

I haven't got "unlucky" on an international BA flight in 15+ years. So no, it doesn't just depend on the plane.

reply

[–] IceyEC link

I flew Cape Town to LHR in January on BA and my entertainment system was stuck in a loop, booting into RedHat over and over again

reply

[–] throwaway049 link

But at least it's finally the year of Linux in the headrest.

reply

[–] ptaipale link

It's not new. I had a 4-hour wait at the terminal to get to a KLM plane in Chengdu a bit over 10 years ago, this was perhaps 2006. The reason became clear when they informed us upon boarding that "the in-flight entertainment system is unfortunately not available, but it is not connected to flight systems and has no impact on flight security".

The entertainment system on the seat backs was Linux in a reboot loop.

reply

[–] linkregister link

Does Turkish Airlines have airplanes in their fleet without seatback screens? Do these planes fly international routes?

reply

[–] rtpg link

Not sure about TA, but my experience is that 95% of this is just about when the planes get bought. Entertainment systems solve the "keep people happy problem" for relatively cheap. But it's pretty expensive to replace all the seats just for that.

JAL/ANA have very new planes with cool entertainment systems, but they also fly their older planes on some routes with a bunch of stuff that looks like it's powered by VCR.

To your question: they probably don't for their major international flights.

reply

[–] koyote link

I can't think of a single European airline that does not have seat-back IFE on long-haul flights. The same goes for the ME3 airlines.

reply

[–] waqf link

That's incredibly evil, but I'm sad to say that after some thought I believe you. It's hard to think of another reason why the ban would be given as a list of specific airports — and it just so happens that American carriers don't fly direct to any of the specified cities. (AA sells flights to a few but they are all codeshares, thanks JamilD for correcting my previous statement.)

(Plus, can confirm that the ME airlines are highly competitive. They're subsidized by their governments: http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2015/03/airline-subs... (thanks hueving)).

reply

[–] chimeracoder link

> Plus, can confirm that the ME airlines are highly competitive. They're subsidized by their governments

That's not true, at least not for Emirates and Etihad, which were the main airlines accused.

Delta and other US airlines did accuse them of violating the Open Skies agreement, yes. Which is quite hypocritical since Delta (like other US airlines) has also taken direct subsidies from the US government.

But, as Emirates showed in their subsequent lawsuit, their financial records prove that they have never taken government subsidies, despite Delta's accusations. Etihad did, but long before Open Skies was signed (1999).

This behavior isn't unusual; the Big Four are just using this as an easy way to smear their biggest competitors, while ignoring other airlines that have similar financial history (China Southern, etc.). But China Southern isn't (currently) drawing passengers away from the Big Four, whereas Emirates/Etihad/Qatar are.

The Gulf aiflines are more efficient than the US airlines because they exclusively serve one city - Emirates, for example, flies only flights to or from Dubai (with a couple of tiny exceptions). That makes it a lot easier to provide excellent service and cheap flights.

reply

[–] JamilD link

JetBlue codeshares with Emirates, who flies to Dubai. JetBlue is a relatively small, mostly domestic airline without any widebody planes.

American doesn't fly to any Middle Eastern cities but they partner with both Etihad and Qatar, who do.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] TuringNYC link

I'm not an expert here, but Kindles (readers, not tablets) seem like the most harmless things. They are almost the perfect devices for long haul flights since the battery life is so long. I usually devour books on long-haul flights on my Kindle.

I wonder if including Kindles is more a jibe against Bezos. Perhaps this is a stretch.

reply

[–] lucaspiller link

It says that other carriers will be informed on Tuesday, so maybe they aren't aware yet. But yes it's sounds a bit weird to ban it on only some carriers...

reply

[–] addicted link

This seems like the most likely explanation to me.

Abu Dhabi security was far more stringent than anything I have been through in Europe, (and ironically Brussels, when I was in the Brussels airport in transit when it was attacked).

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] bogomipz link

>"It's also beyond bizarre that the US trusts Abu Dhabi's security enough to locate its only Middle Eastern Customs/Immigration preclearance facility"

This is not correct Quatar has one as well.

I'm also unsure why you would find this "bizarre" as all of the Emirates are incredibly wealthy.

reply

[–] ghshephard link

You left out the important part of that sentence: "...but not enough to let passengers who have gone through security bring tablets..."

reply

[–] bogomipz link

Yes, see my edit below.

reply

[–] jpatokal link

No, they don't...? https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/ports-entry/operations/p...

And the bizarreness is that they're simultaneously trusting them enough to handle immigration, but not trusting them enough to handle passenger screening.

reply

[–] bogomipz link

Yes they do. Source: I've been through it recently.

reply

[–] kingofpandora link

That's not what he said. He wrote:

> It's also beyond bizarre that the US trusts Abu Dhabi's security enough to locate its only Middle Eastern Customs/Immigration preclearance facility, but not enough to let passengers who have gone through security bring tablets...

It's a good question.

reply

[–] bogomipz link

Indeed I didn't read the sentence correctly my apologies.

However, I don't see that as a vote of confidence in them since they are still permitting flights.

I think similar could be said of the TSA in the US - the DHS trust them enough to let passengers who have gone through security bring shampoo as carry on but not enough if those shampoo bottles are greater than 3.4 ounces, despite having gone through their security.

I think its less about a vote of confidence and more about absurdist theater.

reply

[–] dragonwriter link

> I think similar could be said of the TSA in the US - the DHS trust them enough to let passengers who have gone through security bring shampoo as carry on but not enough if those shampoo bottles are greater than 3.4 ounces, despite having gone through their security.

This is not about DHS trusting TSA, since the specific part of DHS that makes that regulates that is...TSA.

reply

[–] bogomipz link

The parallel I was trying to draw was that they don't trust the own systems and procedures, hence things like arbitrary liquid distinctions and now anything with a battery except cell phones.

reply

[–] jpatokal link

The Big 4 Middle East/Gulf airlines (Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Turkish) have been giving legacy US carriers a lot of grief lately, since they're both cheaper and better on essentially all counts, so I can't help but wonder if they have their finger in the pie here. Few businessmen will opt to fly long-haul if they can't use their laptops, and they're specifically targeting 9 airlines here, not just airports or countries.

It's also beyond bizarre that the US trusts Abu Dhabi's security enough to locate its only Middle Eastern Customs/Immigration preclearance facility, but not enough to let passengers who have gone through security bring tablets...

reply

[–] alkonaut link

> Very ocnfuisng.

That's an RF induced race condition. Someone may be using radiowaves next to your keyboard. Now imagine that happening to the auto pilot system.

reply

[–] hrrsn link

I'm guessing you forgot the /s tag.

reply

[–] GrinningFool link

I'm thinking when he says he's seen it multiple times, the /s tag is implicit.

reply

[–] sitepodmatt link

Love it.

I laughed more though at the comments to this - one person genuinely not sure if humor or not, and one guy, smart, that somehow managed to figure it out without a /s. Welcome to next generation of software engineers.

reply

[–] Cyph0n link

You must be new to the internet. I hope you're aware that people sometimes spout nonsense they genuinely believe in. I know it's HN, but I like to keep my guard up ;)

Let's say you saw a similar comment on HN describing why the Earth is flat. Would you have reacted the same way?

reply

[–] dragonwriter link

It's plausible that someone could genuinely (if unjustifiably) believe that the Earth is flat.

It is far less plausible that they could genuinely believe they have witnesses, first-hand, several instances of a passenger using a cellphone on a commercial flight and causing it to crash, plus instances of navigation and other failures caused by personal electronics.

reply

[–] Cyph0n link

Yeah, I'm going to need some stats on that.

reply

[–] TeMPOraL link

Sometimes a person can keep pretending they believe in the nonsense they write longer than you can believe they're only joking. Such is the Way of the Troll.

reply

[–] Cyph0n link

I'm not sure if you're joking or not... Regardless, the ban does not affect cell phones.

reply

[–] rangibaby link

Joking for sure. When I flew domestic in China people were using their phones the whole time.

reply

[–] Cyph0n link

I'm aware that using a phone on a plane does no harm, but I just wanted to make sure you didn't actually mean it.

reply

[–] lb1lf link

Sure it does. To the cellphone networks. (Unless the aircraft carries its own picocell).

The big problem with cellphones on planes is that they overwhelm the signalling networks on the ground - when the carrier tries to determine which cell is best suited to handle your call, it basically polls the neighbouring cells for the received signal strength from that particular phone. When you're on a plane, your phone is seen from an awful lot of cells.

Also, some systems (GSM, for instance) relies on your velocity compared to the base station not being too large to allocate you a slot in the time-multiplexed channels. Depending on the geometry of the cell network, you may not be able to connect at all when on a plane - but your phone may create all sorts of grief for the network operator.

Or, put another way - if there really was a non-zero probability that a working cellphone on a plane would cause trouble, the TSA would simply collect the phones during boarding and being caught with one would give you the full terrorist treatment.

Given the abundance of cellphones and the sloppiness of people, I think it is probably safe to say that no commercial flight has taken off without at least one active cell-phone aboard for the past twenty years or so.

reply

[–] mikeash link

I'm skeptical that it really causes trouble for phone networks. In my experience flying small airplanes, getting a signal is easy below about 4,000ft, starts getting spotty up to 6,000ft, and is basically impossible above that. Which makes sense: antennas at the cell will be aimed sideways, not up, so the only cells you might be able to talk to would be really far away.

And this is in a fiberglass airplane that's basically radio transparent. Now try it in an aluminum airplane at 30,000+ft. I doubt the cells can even hear your phone in the first place.

reply

[–] lb1lf link

-You're quite possibly right - I cannot recall having heard cell phones go off while at cruise, but during approaches it happens if not all the time, then at least every once in a while when I fly somewhere. (Me being a good boy, I've never tried to satisfy my curiosity by keeping the phone on during flights. :))

There's enough radio transparent openings in an aircraft fuselage for it to be a reasonably inefficient faraday cage - say, windows, for instance. (Or are those portholes on an aircraft, too?)

reply

[–] mikeash link

As far as I know they are still called windows. And yes, you'll be able to connect when close to the ground in many cases. The metal body will greatly attenuate signals, but won't block them completely, especially if you're near a window. The lower and slower you are, the more an airborne cell phone will look and act like a normal ground-bound one, so the less of a problem it'll cause for the network.

reply

[–] TeMPOraL link

I wonder, don't cellphone networks have ways to handle it? E.g. if they detect a phone that behaves as if travelling 13km up at 900km/h, couldn't they just tag it as "in flight" and ignore it for the next few minutes?

reply

[–] lb1lf link

I don't know, to be honest - I do suspect the problem is much smaller now that 3/4G is a thing, though - higher data rates means smaller cells means more directional antennas, and presumably carriers will not waste energy beaming skyward - so maybe airborne phones don't see as many cells as they used to (if any).

It would be non-trivial to determine the phone's altitude, but you could make a pretty good inference from the number and location of cells reporting that they 'see' it - and the velocity should be a no-brainer to figure out with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Hm.

Just a semi-educated guess. (I haven't looked at cellular systems since I was in university 15-20 years ago.)

Methinks you are probably right.

reply

[–] dboreham link

Except...the cell sites typically use antennas that have a high gain in the veritcal axis, meaning very low gain in the direction of high flying aircraft and a low probably that transmissions from phones inside a faraday cage at said high altitude will rise above its receiver noise threshold.

reply

[–] necessity link

That's funny because in China it's forbidden to use it even on airplane mode.

reply

[–] ptaipale link

Sometimes in China, the thing is not lack for things being forbidden, it's the lack of enforcement culture.

reply

[–] hoodoof link

I've seen it quite a few times.

Someone answers their cell phone mid-flight - BOOM! Down goes the plane, steep descent, passengers screaming, masks drop from the ceiling, until that phone call ends and the plane straightens up.

Blanket ban on electronics is the only way to stop this happening.

One time I was flying and someone had forgotten to turn off their phone until the plane was in the air and it interfered with the navigation systems and we landed in London instead of Paris. Very ocnfuisng.

reply

[–] ergothus link

My personal pet peeve is when people say things like "we live in a dangerous world now". No, we don't. At least, not more dangerous than before (which is the implication). We might be breathlessly focused on some dangers, but those dangers are LESS than before, not more.

I don't want anyone to suffer, and definitely don't want anyone to die. I'm not calling for turning our backs on every idea to improve safety. Just don't apply this safety under the false premise that things are more dangerous than they were.

reply

[–] lucaspiller link

If you look at terrorism in the UK and Ireland, Islamic extremists are quite safe compared to the IRA. There were estimated to be over 10,000 terrorist bomb attacks due to the Northern Ireland conflicts.

reply

[–] SmellyGeekBoy link

And yet nobody seriously suggested deporting / monitoring all Irish people as a solution...

reply

[–] pjc50 link

I wouldn't say nobody did. There was certainly enough anti-Irish racism to wrongly convict people (Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, Maguire Seven). And the goal of the Loyalists was not so much to "deport" Catholics living in NI - they were after all born there and British nationals - but to force them to leave. Ethnic cleansing.

The whole thing was a much smaller scale than Syria, but still generated a "flood" of refugees: http://www.thejournal.ie/northern-refugees-ireland-state-pap...

The situation was very weird - a civil war within the UK, effectively, complete with troops on the street and armed checkpoints - but only in very specific areas. A quasi-democracy operated: Gerry Adams MP was permitted to be elected but not allowed to speak on television. Bobby Sands was elected while in prison.

reply

[–] paublyrne link

That's mostly true, but Irish men did come in for a lot of extra screening at airports, being taken into rooms for interrogation and so on. Particularly young Irish men with longer hair. R

Rightwing reporting of incidents did a lot to drive anti Irish sentiment, leading to forced confessions by innocent Irish people for terrorist attacks like in Bermingham and Guilford.

Political leaders who liked to use zero tolerance rhetoric like Margaret Thatcher did a lot to help the IRA recruitment cause.

It was different, but not completely different to what we see now in the US.

By coincidence onetime IRA commander Martin McGuinness died today, a man who's conversion to pursuit of political aims through diplomatic conciliation rather than hardline methods is one of the great examples of how the former works better to end conflicts.

reply

[–] danieltillett link

But the IRA were white so there is nothing to fear /s

reply

[–] charlieegan3 link

I always liked to point "we live in a dangerous world now" folks here: http://www.vrc.crim.cam.ac.uk/vrcresearch/paperdownload/manu... - in particular the graph on the third page.

reply

[–] zer0t3ch link

How the hell would they get accurate crime stats from 1200? A year so long ago that I feel the need to suffix it with "AD".

reply

[–] vacri link

Homicides are easy to document, and those are the stats used in the graphs. It's other crimes that are difficult to compare.

Find an old source saying "Blimey, we hath hadd 200 of thee black cryme of murder thys annus!" and cross-reference it against recorded population at the time, and there's your homicide rate.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] pfarnsworth link

Let's be honest here. Osama Bin Laden won. The US as we knew it pre-911 doesn't exist anymore. He caused it, but the worst thing about it is that we did it to ourselves. First Bush, then Obama and now Trump is putting the nail in the coffin.

reply

[–] taejo link

The US lost, but the US still supports Israel, still has troops in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Middle East, and still supports various anti-Islamist fighters around the world, so no, Osama bin Laden did not achieve his goals.

reply

[–] lallysingh link

He didn't win, but the US did lose.

reply

[–] jsmthrowaway link

If bin Laden's victory condition was "many overly-reductive Americans bemoaning negative events in their nation's existence by parroting that the sky is irreversibly falling, throwing in the entire towel, forgetting or never bothering to study several existential threats to the United States in its brief history, and shrugging that our doom is all due to a Big Bad who managed to take down the world's occasionally most powerful nation with four airliners," then sure, he won. Since it wasn't, your comment is pretty much meaningless despite its appearance of wisdom.

It's weird, for all this terminal rhetoric I read about the end of America I still drove to work this morning and still had faith in American values, not to mention a crazy belief that what's right will ultimately prevail in the face of great adversity. What's more, I feel uniquely empowered as an American to roll up my sleeves and create the America I want to see and believe is good for the rest of us, and I didn't even need Gandhi to teach me that one.

I guess I need a sandwich board instead, because what's the point? Are we merely South Canada now, waiting for an eventual invasion that will take our economic, military, scientific and cultural leadership away, leaving a skeleton of a sovereign state that barely made it out of puberty? What coffin do you think Trump is building? I'm about as disapproving of the current administration as you can get, but I've also studied just enough of the world to understand that things tend to endure, even when the situation looks most hopeless to all involved.

Look at the Big Bads that the British survived throughout their centuries of history. Sure, Pax Britannica and their colonial adventures around the world have come to a close, but I don't see any comments saying "the world won, Britain lost, might as well yield the Crown and just absorb into the EU." Nope: they still fight for what they believe to be good and properly British, including giving the finger to the rest of Europe when they feel it necessary. We should learn from that example, of those with the learned memory of an empire from which they descend, deflated by the world changing around it, yet avoiding the adoption of a fatalist nostalgia that impedes all progress and hope for the future.

If the British aren't a good example, look at the Germans who still live in the punchline of uncomfortable jokes. They're still here, still making some mean beer, and still a valuable member of the world. Not even a particularly misguided government pissing off the entire planet could get rid of a German ideal that lived in its citizens' hearts, and they had a God damned wall down the middle in the wake of that mess to constantly remind them of how hopeless it got.

We are due to be knocked down a couple more pegs than we already are. If you're of the mind to give up when that happens, then you can identify yourself as a member of the "winning" army. Saying UbL won and giving up makes him win. How do you not see that?

reply

[–] TeMPOraL link

Let's put it this way: 9/11 achieved exactly what was intended - it sent the US into a tailspin, and it's dragging the rest of the first world down with it. The current condition of US politics wrt. terrorism is best described as acute case of autoimmune disease. The damage of overreaction being much, much worse than the original attack.

That doesn't mean Bin Laden won - history is not a game, the round didn't end yet. US can still recover - if it choses to.

reply

[–] gambiting link

I'd actually argue that Bin Laden failed terribly at his stated goal - he wanted to make Americans stop for a second and consider why they are being targeted, and then hopefully discover all the atrocities their own government has inflicted on Bin Laden's people, and well, hopefully revolt.

But America in general didn't spend even a second considering this.

https://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/wcpls/z/c5cabqo

reply

[–] SerLava link

Well I suppose, in a sense, it would be wrong to significantly change our behavior towards alignment with OBL's goals. That would probably trigger a lot more terrorism.

reply

[–] gambiting link

Well, yes, of course. I'm not saying that we should have aligned with his goals - but the world certainly failed to get why the attack was done in the first place - for most, it only had a religious motivation, or they think that terrorists hate American freedom so they had to attack.

Like the comment I linked says - terrorist goal wasn't that you get patted down when traveling, or surrendering your privacy to the encroaching surveillance state. Those are goals of the US government, and here, the government is winning. The terrorists however, are definitely not.

reply

[–] jsmthrowaway link

This is the correct answer. We overreacted, sure, but we did not react the way he wanted. I could not agree more with that (excellent) commenter about cheapening the situation.

reply

[–] jsmthrowaway link

Reframing the point from "sky is falling" to "tailspin" doesn't make the point correct. There is absolutely no indicator that the United States of America is in a tailspin and numerous indicators to the contrary. Just like there are people who believe our world supremacy to be unchallenged, others believe the challenging of our world supremacy is fatal and destroying the world. It isn't. Stop saying it is, or it'll start being true.

I am aware some feel that erosion of civil liberties in response to terrorism has destroyed what they feel to be America. We are still having a conversation about those very flaws and I'm not blindfolded before a firing squad for having an unacceptable opinion, so I think the rumors of America's death are greatly exaggerated by those who benefit the most from her continued protections. Before terrorism, it was communism^. We grow out of things because eventually sanity wins out. It always does.

Do not take that to mean it's time to kick back. Quite the opposite: sanity wins because people choose to be sane en masse.

^ The trend line on irrational national fears is interesting. After terrorism should be nice.

reply

[–] ars link

> When I came to the US in 2000 it was a fairly optimistic and happy place. Now....

I've been thinking about that, and trying to put my finger on when things changed, and I realized it's not the US that changed, it's the internet!

Every single complaint and little thing now has a wide wide audience. The good stuff does not however, since it's [relatively] boring.

Talk to some people 40+ and ask them when they thought things went downhill, then ask them when they started using social networks.

reply

[–] ajmurmann link

On the A16Z podcast someone made the great suggestion that as the news cycle shortens the news gets more negative. Good things and progress tends to happen on a longer time down but in the long run wins out. Imagine a news paper that gets published every hundred years. Yes, it would certainly cover the world wars, 9/11, probably the cold war. However, massive increases in life expectancy, decrease in poverty, decrease in violent deaths from crime or war, incredible scientific progress would overshadow almost everything dreadful we are concerned about on a daily basis. It probably would be mostly uplifting to read such a news paper. Our news cycle instead is down to a point where it's hard to imagine it could get any shorter.

reply

[–] raarts link

I would give all my upvotes to this if I could.

reply

[–] sundaeofshock link

I'm 40+ and can tell you exactly when things started going down hill: September 11, 2001.

We were told the world had changed and that we had to fear the unknown. We have been a nation of frightened children ever since.

reply

[–] bootload link

"I'm 40+ and can tell you exactly when things started going down hill: September 11, 2001."

older, 22 Nov '63.

reply

[–] bobwaycott link

Nearly 36 here, and I concur. Everyone's been clothed in fear ever since.

reply

[–] yodon link

Those of us who are 50+ remember The threat of nuclear war, and 60+ remember the reality of the Cuban Missile Crisis. When you've lived through "100 Million people could die in the next 24 hours" (like was a real possibility during the Cuban Missile Crisis), the current threat level just makes people look like panicked children.

reply

[–] PostOnce link

That is still the case w/r/t nuclear war, we just don't worry about it anymore... all it takes is one false alarm.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1983_Soviet_nuclear_false_al...

We still need to worry about that. We seemingly keep adding things to worry about, antibiotic resistance, climate change, big data, and not solving many. Hmm.

reply

[–] lordnacho link

Yes but then Communism fell. We all saw the wall come down and expected the world to be less fearful.

I remember being a kid in the 1980s and my dad explained why there were air raid sirens.

And then the wall fell and all was peaceful until around September 11. For some reason the regular Irish troubles never really registered.

reply

[–] mikeash link

I would put that first number at 35+ or so. I'm 36 and the threat of nuclear war was a vivid part of my childhood.

It's really hard to understand how we went from tolerating MAD to freaking out about a handful of people with box cutters in only a decade. I guess people have really short memories.

reply

[–] vacri link

mid-40s here, and I remember growing up under the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction. "a terrorist might get a small pocket of us" as a national fear is small-fry compared to "a superpower might lay permanent waste to our entire country"...

... and while terrorist strikes do happen and nuclear war doesn't, the fear of terrorist strikes is much greater than the danger they represent.

reply

[–] beedogs link

With each passing day, I become even more satisfied with my decision to leave the United States behind.

It's sad to watch the country I was born in dying, but it's a lot safer doing so on the other side of the world.

reply

[–] suneilp link

This started before 2000. I'd say we were going in a good directios .

Then someone had the idea to treat corporations as people and legalize bribery. Leadership sets the tone as they say in corporations, so what kind of tone do greedy politicians set?

Our upward progress was doomed to stall bigly thanks to that decision.

reply

[–] omginternets link

>2000

I see. You missed out on the Reagan years.

reply

[–] SN76477 link

A lot of this seems to be in the last 3 months

reply

[–] maxxxxx link

When I came to the US in 2000 it was a fairly optimistic and happy place. Now when I read stuff like this I always get reminded how this country went from pretty open to being scared, irrational and mean in the last 15 or so years.

reply

[–] vmarsy link

> Note that some airlines, like Delta, do not allow computers or lithium batteries in checked luggage [...] so this essentially means that other than phones, these things are completely banned and will have to be shipped separately or not shipped at all.

This is incorrect, only spare batteries aren't allowed in checked baggage, computers are fine. From your second link [1]:

> Lithium ion batteries installed in a personal electronic device can be transported as checked or carry on baggage. Lithium ion batteries not installed in a device (spares) must be in carry-on baggage and no more than two (2) spares between 100 and 160 watt hours are allowed.

[1] https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/ba...

reply

[–] mnm1 link

The first link says: "Computers or computer-related equipment are not allowed as checked baggage. You can, of course, bring your laptop computers as carry-on." It's unclear between the two links which one applies. Anyway, I'd check with the airline before trying to check in such equipment.

reply

[–] mnm1 link

Note that some airlines, like Delta, do not allow computers or lithium batteries in checked luggage (for example: https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/ba... && https://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/ba...) so this essentially means that other than phones, these things are completely banned and will have to be shipped separately or not shipped at all.

EDIT: Also, no airline that I know of will insure these items when checked in for more than $100 on international flights (please correct if I'm wrong). So if you can get them in at all, like the article says, they will be stolen.

reply

[–] waqf link

[duplicate comment, admins merged two stories]

reply

[–] hueving link

>Plus, can confirm that the ME airlines are highly competitive

Very, they are subsidized by their governments.

http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2015/03/airline-subs...

reply

[–] goodplay link

Guess the US government should do the same. You either play by the rules of the game, or don't play altogether.

reply

[–] ZeroGravitas link

They could work together to rewrite the rules of the game to be better for everyone. But since the G20 just had to take out wording about the dangers of protectionism to keep the US happy, I'd guess we're going for the tragedy of the commons version.

reply

[–] jpatokal link

The Big 4 Middle East/Gulf airlines (Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, Turkish) have been giving legacy US carriers a lot of grief lately, since they're both cheaper and better on essentially all counts, so I can't help but wonder if they have their finger in the pie here. Few businessmen will opt to fly long-haul if they can't use their laptops, and they're specifically targeting 9 airlines here, not just airports or countries.

It's also beyond bizarre that the US trusts Abu Dhabi's security enough to locate its only Middle Eastern Customs/Immigration preclearance facility, but not enough to let passengers who have gone through security bring tablets...

reply

[–] pavel_lishin link

Are the listed airlines the only ones that have direct flights to the US?

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] metanoia link

United and Delta cut their nonstops to Dubai a while back, so yes, most likely.

reply

[–] Cyph0n link

From my experience, yes, they have covered all of the major airlines in the region.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] JamilD link

I'm convinced this ban is motivated by a protectionist desire from the US-based airlines, to dissuade business travelers from flying on Middle Eastern airlines like Emirates and Qatar, which necessarily transit through countries like the UAE.

If you're someone who flies for work, there's no way you're going to take a flight where you can't use your laptop.

reply

[–] hn_lurker45 link

Liquids are already banned to a large extent. You have to buy it inside the terminal after you get security clearance.

reply

[–] molmalo link

In most of the airports (if not all) that I have been lately, there are water refilling stations, usually close to the restrooms or after you pass through the security checkpoint. I usually pass security with my plastic bottle empty, and then refill it with those machines.

reply

[–] bootload link

" there are water refilling stations, usually close to the restrooms or after you pass through the security checkpoint. "

Done that, security check on one flight I was on at boarding forced all liquids to be emptied.

reply

[–] viraptor link

Dubai does that for some weird reason. They didn't use to until last year though.

reply

[–] spookyuser link

Nevermind that, I once tried to board a flight in Dubai with a completely empty water bottle. Just before I boarded the plane, security stopped me and rummaged through my bag for a minute or so as though they were looking for something then just threw my empty bottle out, saying it was not allowed. I was thirsty for the whole flight because of that. They did, however, manage to foil my plan of bringing down an A380 with an empty 200ml bottle.

reply

[–] suvelx link

This. Dubai had some major security theatre.

Get off one plane, go through security to the transit terminal.

Wander around, refill water bottles.

Buy some duty free, get it put in a cardboard box with a ziptie.

Go to gate, go through ticket check, some corridors to gate lounge.

Get cardboard box confiscated and put in a pile of similar looking cardboard boxes.

Asked to empty water bottle... where? You can't turn around. Chug a litre of water.

Have bags 'checked', go into lounge, refill water bottle again.

Pee three times.

Still better than flying through any US airport tho.

reply

[–] chrismcb link

This is fine for domestic travel, but not nessesarily for travel to the US. Many of these flights have additional security at the gate just prior to boarding. US is way too paranoid

reply

[–] venomsnake link

i would suggest trying El Al then ... they have missile defense systems on their civilian planes. And it is recommended to arrive at least 4 hours early on Ben Gurion ...

reply

[–] marcoperaza link

Given that someone already tried to bring down a plane with a laptop bomb, and was nearly successful, maybe a little less cynicism is justified. Here's the relevant excerpt from the CNN article on this:

>The official said the move is partly based on intelligence that they believe indicates Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is close to being able to hide explosives with little or no metal content in electronic devices in order to target commercial aircraft. It's a particular concern at these airports because of screening issues and the possibility of terrorists infiltrating authorized airport personnel, the official said. Flight and cabin crews are not covered by these new restrictions. In February 2016, a bomb hidden inside a laptop detonated aboard a Daallo Airlines flight out of Mogadishu, Somalia. The bomber was killed and a hole was blown in the side of the fuselage. The aircraft landed safely.

reply

[–] anarazel link

Given it's allowed to check laptops I don't find that very convincing. Some countries/airports do have better checked luggage scanning, but I doubt that's something to rely on with ask of these.

reply

[–] untog link

Then why limit it to non-US carriers? Are United planes bomb-proof?

reply

[–] marcoperaza link

It's not based on carrier, but on the country that the flight originates in. Flights from the affected carriers, originating in other countries, are not subject to the new requirements either.

reply

[–] mikeash link

These things are always presented as a legitimate security measure, whether or not they actually are.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] untog link

This is how they implement the Muslim ban. Piece by piece, bit by bit, they make it utterly infuriating for any Muslim person to travel to the US. Next they'll ban absolutely all liquids, or something.

reply

[–] tempestn link

I have no evidence to support this, but one possibility is that they'd like the opportunity to study those devices without the owners' awareness. It sounds a little tinfoil hat, but in the absence of a better explanation (aside from really poor security theater) it starts to look plausible.

reply

[–] ohazi link

RealFlight? I had a similar control box that used a game port (D-sub) before USB was common.

reply

[–] rebootthesystem link

I have both RealFlight and PhoenixRC. For heli training Phoenix feels better to me. Also, you can use your real RC transmitter to run the simulator, in my case I run JR transmitters. The down side is that you can't (shouldn't) run a real transmitter while flying in an airliner. Yes, when plugged into Phoenix the TX circuitry turns off, but I wouldn't want to answer those questions so I use RealFlight and their dummy transmitter for that purpose.

There's something uniquely geeky about flying in a flight simulator while flying on a real plane. Like I said, good conversation starter.

reply

[–] rebootthesystem link

Reminds me of something from about fifteen years ago.

I was training getting into R/C helicopters. No, not the toys they sell at the mall but the more sophisticated models flown by R/C pilots. Needless to say, they are not easy to fly. Even with twenty years experience flying R/C airplanes of all kinds I had to start from scratch.

R/C heli's can be very expensive to crash. A set of carbon fiber rotors and related mechanics will easily set you back well of $200. I was intent on learning without crashing. How? Use an R/C flight simulator and log hundreds of hours before flying the real thing.

I was flying back and forth to Europe a bunch during that time. It was only logical to take my flight simulator with me and practice during the long flight. That meant my laptop along with a special full size R/C controller with a USB cord instead of the antenna.

This rig always called attention to itself and was a pretty good conversation starter. I always had to explain what it was while going through security. On two flight the pilot came over to my seat to check out what I was doing. In both cases they asked to see if they could fly the simulated heli. And, sorry to say, in both cases they failed miserably. It was a great way to get 16+ hours of practice.

Not sure I could do that today.

reply

[–] kartickv link

This affects people from many countries, not just the seven or eight targeted initially. For example, I stay in India, and if I visit the US, I may fly via Dubai.

Which means, in turn, that I'm less likely to visit. Why take a 20-hour flight and subject myself to "extreme vetting"?

reply

[–] ryukafalz link

On the plus side, it's harder to compel you to decrypt your disk if you're nowhere near it at the time.

reply

[–] jamoes link

On the minus side, they can install malware on your machine without your knowledge (even if your disk is encrypted).

reply

[–] walrus01 link

Or a hardware based keystroke logger.

reply

[–] ploggingdev link

Source? How is it possible to install malware when the disk is encrypted?

reply

[–] kbart link

VGA, Wifi module, Ethernet controller, BIOS (UEFI), power controller, heck, even battery all have chips inside them capable of running malware as well. It's naive to believe than NSA&co doesn't have its fingers on such techniques (remember Cisco devices interception). Modern laptop/PC is ridden with micro "PCs" all over.

reply

[–] photon-torpedo link

There have been some reports about UEFI-based malware, which can hook into the OS boot process. I guess this could also work even if the disk is encrypted. First Google hit for "UEFI malware":

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2948092/security/hacking-team...

reply

[–] throwaway7767 link

You modify the bootloader to grab the password on next decryption. The bootloader is in cleartext on the disk, otherwise the machine couldn't boot.

More advanced versions would involve modifying the BIOS to add a SMM-mode hook. That way the malware runs completely outside the view of the OS. Alternatively, any device with DMA access could have its firmware altered to read sensitive information from memory.

Physical security is an unsolved problem.

reply

[–] ryukafalz link

>You modify the bootloader to grab the password on next decryption. The bootloader is in cleartext on the disk, otherwise the machine couldn't boot.

Mine isn't - I have GRUB installed to my BIOS chip, and I decrypt the single encrypted partition from there.

>More advanced versions would involve modifying the BIOS to add a SMM-mode hook.

That one could still get me though, yeah.

reply

[–] bdg link

Drive firmware exploits have been around for long enough you can do it at home.

reply

[–] jhlgkhkhil link

In one of the flash chips? Or a hardware module?

reply

[–] KirinDave link

You got the prize. Everyone here is trying to attribute a safety reason. This is HS bringing down their budget.

reply

[–] tacticus link

It's probably a new variant of civil forfeiture for the TSA. They just claim you never checked it when grabbing it.

reply

[–] notliketherest link

likely Homeland Security wants to be able to search the contents of the laptops - easier to do this when they're checked.

reply

[–] brajesh link

This is probably a "travel ban" by inconvenience, since the earlier bans were stayed in courts

reply

[–] dawnerd link

This is just asking for trouble... Between theft and potential battery fires, it almost feels like they want something bad to happen so they can say people coming from these countries are dangerous (using a hull fire as proof).

reply

[–] Const-me link

They might think airport security personnel at Amsterdam or Paris do their job better than their colleagues from those 8 Middle Eastern and North African countries.

And/or they might think Netherlands and France is just as attractive for the terrorists as the US, i.e. the terrorists won’t bother taking that second flight.

BTW, I think Russia should be the 9-th country on that list, as they have long history of sponsoring terrorism.

reply

[–] linkregister link

I'm ignorant of Russia's historical role in sponsoring terrorism; I'm only getting recent Ukraine / Syria links. Can you share some resources to learn more about it?

reply

[–] venomsnake link

Both in Ukraine and Syria the Russians are supporting the legitimate government. Don't forget there was coup in Ukraine. Not very good governments but still.

reply

[–] Const-me link

They are doing that at least since foundation of USSR.

Russians ordered bombings in Warsaw, Poland in 1920-s. Shipped weaponry to Irish Republican Army and Palestine in 70-s. Speaking about Palestine, some say Russians have invented plane hijacking as a terrorist tactic: http://web.archive.org/web/20130102051626/http://www.nationa...

Killed many political opponents abroad, Alexander Litvinenko in UK, Sulim Yamadaev in UAE, Stepan Bandera in Germany.

If you want more, read books and articles by Stanislav Lunev, Ion Mihai Pacepa, Viktor Suvorov. Those are high-ranking KGB officers who surrendered and were cooperative. Alexander Litvinenko also published stuff about state-sponsored terrorism in modern Russia, but he concentrated on domestic not international.

reply

[–] linkregister link

Thanks! I'm not sure why you were down voted; maybe the down voter could publicly dispute your statement instead.

reply

[–] mozumder link

It could mean the Middle eastern airlines are now safer for you to fly than any other airline? =^D

reply

[–] jacquesm link

So, assuming this is because of some credible threat: does that mean DHS thinks that terrorists can't afford a couple of weeks lay-over in Amsterdam or Paris before traveling to the United States?

reply

[–] marcoperaza link

They did explain why they're necessary. You wouldn't know that from the cynical comments on HackerNews though. From the CNN article about this:

>The official said the move is partly based on intelligence that they believe indicates Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is close to being able to hide explosives with little or no metal content in electronic devices in order to target commercial aircraft. It's a particular concern at these airports because of screening issues and the possibility of terrorists infiltrating authorized airport personnel, the official said. Flight and cabin crews are not covered by these new restrictions. In February 2016, a bomb hidden inside a laptop detonated aboard a Daallo Airlines flight out of Mogadishu, Somalia. The bomber was killed and a hole was blown in the side of the fuselage. The aircraft landed safely.

reply

[–] whyenot link

If it is going to place burdensome carry on restrictions on people the US government could at least explain why the measures are necessary.

At the rate we are going, it's not going to be long before you will not be allowed to bring any carry on luggage at all when flying from certain airports. Maybe everyone should fly naked. Who knows, someone might have plastic explosives sewn into their clothes. Wait, what if someone swallows the explosives? Maybe everyone should be forced to take an emetic and get a colonoscopy before flying.

reply

[–] zeroer link

This is probably a first step towards a ban on all flights for that exact reason.

reply

[–] greglindahl link

... which would increase risk, because battery fires are worse in checked bags than in the main cabin/overheads.

reply

[–] astrodust link

Considering zero fires in carry-on have caused plane crashes, but a non-zero number in cargo have, yeah, basically this makes it way worse.

reply

[–] astrodust link

This makes almost zero sense, and it's likely that there will be zero explanation as to why any of this is necessary.

If there's a threat this only introduces a minor inconvenience to those looking to carry out an attack. Is getting a connecting flight in some country like Germany going to be hard?

reply

[–] dv_dt link

I suspect it's more about expanding the envelope of nation specific bans - the devices being a convenient pretense.

reply

[–] ghshephard link

I had a colleague fly through Amman last night. They had him remove 100% of everything from his briefcase and checked everything for bomb residue. If I had to guess, the US has intelligence that someone is going to bring a bomb (or some other weapon) on board a plane using a Laptop Form factor. I'm also guessing that the type of damage one can do with a device in the Cabin is greater than that can be done in the luggage hold (which is why the Laptop can be checked, but not brought through carry on.)

Though, I'm open to the alternative theory that having people place their laptops in checked luggage gives them greater opportunity to do targeted surveillance without their target being aware.

reply

[–] rndstr link

Why not use that intel to catch the person instead of telling him? He can now just use as different airline?

reply

[–] colordrops link

Or just their ass. People can fit amazingly large things in their ass and it would bypass all airport detection. There is no real security with such big loopholes.

reply

[–] jacquesm link

Bollocks. That's one thing the millimeter scan will pick up just fine.

reply

[–] zkms link

No. Millimetre wave (and backscatter x-ray) imagery won't penetrate skin and certainly won't reveal the presence of contraband inside a human.

There's commercially available penetrating X-ray human body security scanners, but afaict those just have been used in prisons, not in airports (yet!).

reply

[–] snovv_crash link

They are also used in diamond mines. In fact, that's what the LODOX (low dosage x-ray) system was first invented for.

reply

[–] colordrops link

To find diamonds or to scan workers for smuggled diamonds?

reply

[–] snovv_crash link

Scanning the workers. A full body scan is low enough dosage that it is safe to be scanned every ~3 days (IIRC), so 30% of workers would be randomly selected for a whole body scan each day when they leave the mines.

Since then it has been repurposed for extreme cases like unconscious car crash victims in order to determine the extent of injuries. Or so I learned in a medical imaging elective.

The technology behind it is really cool! By using temporal separation for the different parts of the image they reduce scattering blur, allowing them to use a much lower dose to get the same image quality.

reply

[–] jedberg link

Millimeter scans only happen in US airports -- they're banned in ~Europe~ the EU and not really used anywhere else.

Also you're very wrong. You can defeat a millimeter scan just by placing the contraband between your palms while your hands are clasped above your head.

reply

[–] sambe link

They are used all over Europe. Maybe some countries have opted not to use them, but I go through them every time I fly. In some cases there might be an opt-out for passengers, but they are certainly not banned.

reply

[–] suvelx link

They're used heavily in Australia too. And I always get picked up by them.

I think the person at the monitor wants to look at my weiner.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] jacquesm link

> Millimeter scans only happen in US airports -- they're banned in Europe and not really used anywhere else.

were.

https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2014/04/19/bodyscanners-zo-gaat-he...

reply

[–] gervase link

I can say that I was required to use one to get back into the U.S. while transiting through Schiphol back in October 2013. No opt out, just the scanner and "I'm not forcing you to fly today - you can stay here." Pretty rude, too.

Since then, I always transit through Heathrow. It's a logistical nightmare with all those buses, but they've never coerced me to go through a scanner. Those biometric checkpoints, on the other hand...

[Note: This was with Dutch staff for British Airways; not sure if that's relevant.]

reply

[–] sjf link

I don't know why you say that, while there are not scanners on every security lane at Heathrow they _cannot_ be refused, there is no pat-down alternative like in the US.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/jan/26/new-body-scanners...

reply

[–] atomwaffel link

Yes, they can be refused at Heathrow. I did so just a few weeks ago. The alternative process wasn't unpleasant but did feel deliberately inefficient.

reply

[–] DarkCow link

I believe this was previously the case, but it is now possible to opt out. I flew from Heathrow (Terminal 2) on Friday, refused the mm-wave scanner and had a pat-down in a private room instead.

From Heathrow's security FAQ page (http://www.heathrow.com/more/help-with-this-website/faqs/sec...):

The only alternative that can be offered to a scanner is a private search which allows for a more extensive hand-search than usual. Passengers will be escorted to a different location in the airport from the main search area (eg a private search room). The private search may involve the loosening and/or removal of clothing. A person undergoing a private search may ask to be accompanied by a witness.

This alternative screening method will take significantly more time than passing through a security scanner.

reply

[–] trevyn link

I experienced this at Schiphol as well, a bit after you. I told them I couldn't because of a medical condition, they gave me a pretty thorough pat-down, and let me on.

reply

[–] jedberg link

You're right, it's just the EU. I fixed my comment.

The point is their technology is terrible and they are easy to defeat, as has been proven many many times.

They are security theater and they were only put in place because the guy in charge of what scanners were allowed at US airports happened to have a financial interest in the company that made the millimeter wave scanner.

reply

[–] kogepathic link

> They are security theater and they were only put in place because the guy in charge of what scanners were allowed at US airports happened to have a financial interest in the company that made the millimeter wave scanner.

Yup. I have been to many airports in Africa and SE Asia that have only a metal detector, manned by someone who barely cares enough to stand there, and no one has successfully committed an act of terrorism (a la 9/11) with a plane due to it.

Also when I was traveling in Japan, they had machines that could scan the contents of your water bottle so you didn't have to empty it or throw it away while going through security.

I'm mildly convinced other countries don't have this because the beverage industry can sell more water/soda you're forced to throw it away when you go through security.

I've also stopped arguing about going through the machines. I know they do nothing, but it's not worth the hassle security employees give you to opt out. Just stand there, knowing it's pointless, and move on.

reply

[–] linkregister link

To be fair, the threat model of those countries doesn't include terrorist hijackings. You will surely experience a thorough screening in Israel or Frankfurt.

Every major U.S. airport I've been to in the past 5 years has had ample bottle filling stations.

reply

[–] kogepathic link

> You will surely experience a thorough screening in Israel or Frankfurt.

I think Israel is special, because they use behavioural profiling on you as well.

I've been through Frankfurt on an inter-EU flight, and we were put into the priority lane because things were quiet. The priority lane only had (has?) a metal detector, no body scanner.

So if the body scanners were really about security, why would they have a lane that allows you to bypass them completely?

I once flew from Frankfurt to Barcelona without anyone checking my passport (I am not European but have a valid residence permit for an EU country). Did online checkin and printed my boarding pass. No checked luggage, and automated boarding pass scanners at the gate. So yeah, really thorough...

reply

[–] chatmasta link

Frankfurt and Barcelona are both in the Schengen zone. Just like you can drive from Austria to Hungary without a passport, you can fly from Germany to Spain without one. It's only on the edge of the zone that they check your passport.

reply

[–] kogepathic link

> It's only on the edge of the zone that they check your passport.

I am aware. My point wasn't clear. I wasn't surprised I was not asked for my passport, however I was surprised I was able to fly from Germany to Spain without anyone verifying I was the person my boarding pass said I was.

I could have given my ticket to a friend and they would have been able to fly under my name, because at no point did anyone ask for government ID to confirm I was the same person as my boarding pass.

I value the freedom of movement Europeans have very highly, but it just goes to show how dead easy it is for someone to travel undetected (e.g. have an associate buy your ticket).

reply

[–] linkregister link

If you are flying to a destination outside the Schengen zone from Frankfurt, you have a strong chance of receiving a close frisk. The frisk is far beyond what is acceptable in U.S. culture and norms.

reply

[–] rangibaby link

> I'm mildly convinced other countries don't have this because the beverage industry can sell more water/soda you're forced to throw it away when you go through security.

That makes sense, Japanese airports have distinctly non-airport prices for food and drinks even past security.

reply

[–] L_226 link

Anecdata: Japanese airport staff are also humans, and treat you like a fellow human. Most pleasant immigration experiences I've had were at Narita. My own country (AU) treats me like a criminal on _departure_.

reply

[–] cypherpunks01 link

Who's the guy you mention? It's hard to find the right search terms to look it up, and I haven't heard that story before.

reply

[–] jedberg link

Rapiscan, the maker of the device, was a client of Michael Chertoff's consulting company, and he was the head of Homeland Security when the scanners were put in place by his department.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] lostlogin link

And if you care about your radiation dose (some of us do) you will opt for a molestation rather than a zap.

reply

[–] greglindahl link

Uh, no. Many physicists don't like the now-discontinued X-ray backscatter machines, but the mm wave devices are not ionizing radiation. Some guy explained why non-ionizing radiation isn't a problem in 1905; won the Nobel Prize for it, too.

reply

[–] jedberg link

> but the mm wave devices are not ionizing radiation

The science is still out on whether it's harmful or not. I got TSA pre so I can just avoid it, but before that I always opted out.

reply

[–] robbiep link

The science is only still out if you believe that mobile phones are causing cancer as well- ie for those who can't, or refuse, to understand science. For everyone else it's throughly settled

reply

[–] trevyn link

Sorry, what?

"The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). Its major goal is to identify causes of cancer. The IARC has classified RF fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” based on limited evidence of a possible increase in risk for brain tumors among cell phone users, and inadequate evidence for other types of cancer."

I would not call that "thoroughly settled".

reply

[–] robbiep link

Good chat, despite it's mildly aggressive nature. Here's what:

So, an organisation that basically labels everything in the world as either a potential carcinogen or carcinogen [0] when the second lowest score they award still reads as 'potential carcinogen' is more powerful than actual evidence, accrued across enormous longitudinal studies, first from scandinavia [1] but backed significantly by australia [2] and integrated into a plausable mechanism for increases in >70 year olds [3] combined with a finding that would actually revolutionise physics and biology for suggesting a new mechanism for the interaction of electromagnetism and biology?

Alarmists are everywhere [4]. But that doesn't mean they are right. It's easy to listen to fear, but just because someone is screaming and crying doesn't make them right. Serious claims deserve to be looked at seriously, and this one has been throughly examined, in research that is continuing. And it continues to be debunked by huge datasets - not just the referenced studies but also the million woman study [5][6] and others.

So yes, I repeat, for anyone versed in science, physics and with their head screwed on straight, the science is settled, and I challenge you to demonstrate either a mechanism or a throughly vetted dataset that proves otherwise. And i'll remind you that hitting the first answer on google does not constitute research.

[0] http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/299632-cha...

[1] https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6387

[2] http://www.cancerepidemiology.net/article/S1877-7821(16)3005...

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15378499

[4] http://theconversation.com/new-study-no-increase-in-brain-ca...

[5] http://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2014/05/14/back-in-t...

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24078152

reply

[–] trevyn link

Thank you for the information, very interesting. Increased inflammatory response seems a reasonable potential mechanism:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1994795/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25251956

Perhaps it doesn't cause cancer per se, but promotes tumor growth or otherwise creates a more favorable environment.

reply

[–] robbiep link

It's a pretty thin bow to draw, but could be - so could general increase in average population blood glucose as more of the population suffers from metabolic disorder/T2DM but again that's promoting tumour growth not necessarially causing cancer.. and there certainly isn't enough evidence to say that. Studies are continuing but again when early weak studies show a positive result, and later good studies show no result, the chance of drawing a positive p value become lower and lower

reply

[–] HeavenBanned link

You never know what might end up becoming the "radium dial" of this generation. People like to say shit is settled "just ask all the physicists! it's safe!" - uh no - shit isn't settled until 20/20 history can be the judge. "Hey, I wonder why all these workers are getting phossy jaw?" ...hmm? Their jaws were literally falling off their skulls. Nobody was wiser. All this cancer going around is definitely not a coincidence.

reply

[–] 09bjb link

I tried researching this a while back and opted for the molestation (at least one qualified for that term). I recently went back to zapping out of cumulative annoyance. Any good resources that review the radiation type and dose?

reply

[–] wapz link

I agree with you completely. Banning the devices is really not going to do anything but piss off customers (maybe make a few feel safer).

reply

[–] kobeya link

It's going to put laptops in the baggage where they can be pulled out and their data dumped for dragnet surveillance.

reply

[–] jerf link

As much as I enjoy a good conspiracy theory, there's just not enough time for that, with the timing as tight as it is. A particular target with a focused scan, sure. Mass surveillance dragnet? No way. Not unless the NSACIAFBI have a way of dumping a hard drive without turning on the machine at speeds faster than a disk can even dump itself.

(Try pouring out your​ biggest spinning rust drive out over any port that can keep up with the drive. It takes hours nowadays. SSDs can bottleneck at the port instead of the drive, but you can't count on your target having one yet, nor can you count on the fastest ports being available. And we're certainly not going to mass-disassemble laptops to dump their drives.)

reply

[–] Terr_ link

On the other hand, installing simple "retro-reflector" bugs for future use is a possibility.

[0] https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2014/06/building_retr...

reply

[–] X-Istence link

Keep you busy at CBP, keep the bag from the belt when you first land... plenty of opportunities to physically attack the device when the person can't keep it on them and keep an eye on it.

reply

[–] jerf link

To both of your who replied, yes, there are various other attacks, but that's a different issue that what I was replying to.

And, still, at bulk these things aren't feasible, or even necessary. You're not taking your cynicism far enough. Why does the government need to sorta kinda hope that you might maybe take a flight with your gear someday when they're already capturing all your email and web browsing anyhow? It's a ridiculous theory that you're only entertaining because our trust has decayed to the point that the mere fact that something is an accusation against our government is all but proof that it must be true, no matter how silly it is.

No, the government is not going to set out to physically attack every laptop passing through an airport, because what would that give them that they don't already have, except huge operational costs and risk of detection?

reply

[–] GordonS link

> maybe make a few feel safer

Or maybe make even more feel yet more in fear of terrorists. Which the cynic in me thinks might be the point

reply

[–] marcoperaza link

That's some strong criticism, especially since you're not even considering that someone already successfully detonated a laptop bomb on a plane.

From the CNN article on this new policy: >The official said the move is partly based on intelligence that they believe indicates Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is close to being able to hide explosives with little or no metal content in electronic devices in order to target commercial aircraft. It's a particular concern at these airports because of screening issues and the possibility of terrorists infiltrating authorized airport personnel, the official said. Flight and cabin crews are not covered by these new restrictions. In February 2016, a bomb hidden inside a laptop detonated aboard a Daallo Airlines flight out of Mogadishu, Somalia. The bomber was killed and a hole was blown in the side of the fuselage. The aircraft landed safely.

reply

[–] dang link

Would you please not repeat the same thing over and over? This is excessive.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] Rapehn link

When did you know you were a cunt?

reply

[–] Sciencehaters link

Can you stop doing everything you can to make people hate science. Stop being elitist maybe?

reply

[–] nameless912 link

I think you've posted this like 15 times in this comment section. This is a terrible argument: what happens when next month someone hides a bomb in a bottle of liquor, or a child's toy, or an iPhone? This kind of reactive security is a sure way to inconvenience everyone and not actually improve security in any meaningful way. Every security professional knows that if you only "fix" the narrow cases that have caused problems in the past, you will never prevent another attack. I don't know what a better solution looks like, because I'm not an expert on counterterrorism or explosives detection, but this certainly isn't it.

reply

[–] marcoperaza link

I imagine that a bomb in a bottle of liquor is not easy to conceal from a scanner. On the other hand, I can see a laptop "battery" being a great vehicle for an explosive hidden in plain sight. There's also immediate threats to think about. If you have intelligence about an imminent attack by a certain method, you can stop it with targeted reactive measures. Good security requires both proactive and reactive approaches.

reply

[–] yjftsjthsd-h link

The point made was that it's idiotic because bombs can be shoved into anything. Copy pasting the same bit about the likely existence of laptop bombs only matters if you believe that 1. it's harder to use something other than a laptop, or 2. moving a bomb to the luggage compartment will help.

reply

[–] ocschwar link

Moving a small bomb to the luggage compartment does help, because it is not pressurized. I'll grand that much.

reply

[–] ocschwar link

What utter bullshit.

If they allow phones at all, then the threat cannot be an issue of a passenger sending a command out of one of these. The threat has to be the device itself.

Now, a standard issue iPad is no threat, so we're talking about a customized device made to look like on.

Except, if terrorists are going to the trouble to do this, they can just as easily put whatever bad thing they want to put into the case of an insulin pump, and bypass the ban.

This. Is. Bullshit.

reply

[–] peterwwillis link

This is actually one of the few credible attacks a hijacker could perform, and reducing the size of the batteries (assuming most cellphones don't have 72Whr 6-cell batteries) is a practical method to prevent such an attack in the cabin. However, it doesn't seem to rule out the exact same thing happening in the cargo hold with a timer. It's less stupid than water restrictions.

reply

[–] stevenwoo link

The rationale for water restrictions seems OK to me on the face of it. It's a PIA for traveling. http://blog.tsa.gov/2008/02/more-on-liquid-rules-why-we-do-t...

reply

[–] peterwwillis link

> Was this a real threat? Yes, there was a very serious plot to blow up planes using liquid explosives in bombs that would have worked to bring down aircraft.

Yeah. With Nitroglycerin, the stuff that explodes when you move it too fast. You could still bring this on a plane undetected in 3.4oz containers. And you can check a bag with much larger amounts.

But there was not just "a plot" to blow up a plane with liquid explosives. There was a successful attack on a South Korean plane that killed everyone on board with liquid explosives, used in 1989. Yet they don't even mention this, probably because the policy was put in place after 9/11, partly as a fear tactic to get US citizens to support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, partly to prevent fear from ruining the airline industry, and partly to support the new jobs program called the TSA (which was also created after 9/11).

Without fear and extensive unnecessary security measures, the TSA would not be the size it is, nor would it get the investment it gets. If you don't believe TSA is primarily a jobs program, consider that according to NPR in 2006, a government report showed that Research & Development programs were delayed when TSA funds were redirected in order to pay for personnel costs for screeners. And the TSA receives 8 billion dollars a year.

There are many ways to detect liquid explosives. By removing them from their container (or requiring specific kinds of transparent containers) and using laser scatter plotting or microwaves, or by detecting vapor emissions from an opened bottle, for example. But nobody cared about them when planes were bombed using them, and they're still not using any of these methods, 17 years after the policies were put in place. These policies are just tools used to control people.

reply

[–] dogecoinbase link

This is... crazy. I can't even recall the last time I travelled with checked luggage of any kind, and make a point of not letting my laptop/etc out of arm's reach while traveling. I guess this does make it easier to search/bug devices, though.

reply

[–] harlanlewis link

> the ban will apply to nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa

Personal electronics are near-indispensable. By restricting their carry from Muslim countries, freedom of movement to and from those countries is significantly curtailed. This is about getting around the illegality of the Muslim ban without banning any persons or groups. This is about "cultural protectionism" through isolationism, not terrorism, and it's not even trying particularly hard to pretend otherwise.

reply

[–] snuxoll link

> This is about getting around the illegality of the Muslim ban without banning any persons or groups.

This was my first thought until I saw a Saudi airport on the list of originating airports that will be impacted by the ban. Trump avoided listing any countries where he had business connections with in his ban orders, so I'm more likely to believe this is the result of actionable intelligence than xenophobia/Islamophobia-related bullshit.

Still, I could be wrong and it could just be the current administration keeping on their anti-Islam crusade.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] wheelerwj link

interesting theory. but is keeping you from your laptop (but still allowing a smart phone) really much of a deterrent these days? most younger people are content without a laptop, using their phones quite a bit.

reply

[–] jacquesm link

It would be for me. My laptop is my access to my work and without it I'm not traveling for work and I will not let it out of my sight without buying another laptop and doing a complete re-image. No way I'd trust it after passing it off for several hours. Paranoid? Maybe.

reply

[–] adventured link

The premise you're going with doesn't make much sense. The devices aren't banned, you have to pack them in your luggage. It won't significantly curtail freedom of movement at all.

reply

[–] harlanlewis link

You're not wrong. I suppose I'd call my own statement a bit weak if this wasn't the third highly targeted policy in the past 2 months - in fact one of the few types of policies this administration has pushed all the way to action. It's possible my lens is broken, but it seems to me none of the policies considering the general populace of the middle east should be considered in isolation.

reply

[–] adventured link

There's zero question it's intentionally narrowly targeting Islamic terrorism at best, and at worst is a staging ground for how much power of restriction they now have (or can get away with) when it comes to those sorts of things. The same way phone searches are a trial balloon that will inevitably spread to not just the general population at airports but the local / state law enforcement as well.

My point is specifically that I don't believe it'll impede freedom of movement meaningfully. People will simply pack their devices in luggage. Interestingly, it might result in fewer laptop searches at the airports (whereas they might have asked someone to open / turn on / provide a password), among that targeted population.

reply

[–] couchand link

> Interestingly, it might result in fewer laptop searches at the airports (whereas they might have asked someone to open / turn on / provide a password), among that targeted population.

I don't think that's right. Such demands are not generally made at airport security at the origin, but at the CBP checkpoint at the arrival airport. There, passengers have already retrieved checked bags.

reply

[–] sokoloff link

Origin checks are used to prove that the electronic device is not a container for a bomb. (If it boots and looks normal, it probably is.)

reply

[–] toyg link

It will make espionage much easier: checked-in laptops will be trivially stolen as part of security checks (US authorities can and will open any checked-in bag they feel like opening, and now any involved Middle-Eastern authority will also be able to do the same).

reply

[–] diminoten link

...this is absurd. It's a 96 hour ban, this has absolutely nothing to do with the travel ban.

reply

[–] maxerickson link

Could you link or explain where you are getting further info?

Neither Bloomberg nor this Reuters article mention the period it will be in effect.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-airlines-electronics-i...

reply

[–] harlanlewis link

While some initially reported it as a 96 hour ban, some of those reports have been updated to say 96 hours allowed for airline compliance. I honestly don't know which one is right.

At least we can rest assured this has been as carefully prepared, vetted, and communicated as other recent policies. </s>

reply

[–] maxerickson link
[–] harlanlewis link

Subjecting a targeted group to repeated fear and uncertainty through changing rules seems to be more of the plan than an absurdity. A rule like this establishes precedent, even.

You put up this headline without any of the other political context and I am right there with you. But there is no shortage of context.

reply

[–] jpalomaki link

These parts of the article provides plausible explanation:

"Brian Jenkins, an aviation-security expert at the Rand Corp., said the nature of the security measure suggested that it was driven by intelligence of a possible attack."

"The ban would begin just before Wednesday's meeting of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Washington. A number of top Arab officials were expected to attend the State Department gathering. It was unclear whether their travel plans were related to any increased worry about security threats."

reply

[–] jacquesm link

What kind of attack would this policy avert?

reply

[–] tmp4343 link

Somebody hiding in the laptop chassis some kind of object that can be used to harm others.

The X rays are certainly not perfect and there is certain probability something goes unnoticed. In normal case we just make a trade off between convenience and security. In this special case somebody wants to play it safe.

reply

[–] swatkat link

May be there's a loophole in x-ray machines that scan cabin bags, but not in the machines that scan checked-in bags?

(just guessing, if at all "it was driven by intelligence of a possible attack")

reply

[–] Cyph0n link

Why is the ban targeting only these specific airlines? Are they so confident that a potential perpetrator couldn't fly in on Delta through Paris?

reply

[–] tmp123213 link

Sounds like the threat is not about generic attack against airplanes, but more targeted towards specific people traveling from certain countries to US.

reply

[–] yongjik link

I guess it's a shoutout to Trump's core supporters that he's still committed to doing "The Right Thing" by putting those brown people in their proper places.

(Totally not picked because they're muslim, I swear, wink wink.)

reply

[–] adventured link

So who was Obama appealing to among his core supporters, when he attacked "brown people" in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen?

reply

[–] yongjik link

...Those people who can understand the difference between a temporary stopping of visa processes and a blanket ban that extends to legal green card holders?

reply

[–] LyndsySimon link

Obama bombed those places with drones.

reply

[–] stefantalpalaru link

Yeah, but he looked cool doing it.

reply

[–] int_19h link

Obama didn't do the wink part before he did that, though.

reply

[–] BWStearns link

People who don't like ISIS, ghaddafi, ISIS/AQ, the taliban, ibid, pirates, and AQAP respectively.

reply

[–] wheelerwj link

Trump supporters...

reply

[–] mattnewton link

Easier to root and search a machine checked in?

reply

[–] komali2 link

TSA always fucks up my repack. I've had nicely-packed arts totally destroyed because of how they chuck shit back into my bag after they finish pawing through it.

reply

[–] hamami link

it's just another distraction from the healthcare plan or the Russian ties investigation, no need to fry your brain looking for logic here.

reply

[–] zackbloom link

It could be a specific threat they are now aware of.

reply

[–] uptown link

Distracts from today's testimony by Comey.

reply

[–] BWStearns link

Almost no one outside the tech or business communities will really care about this (beyond individuals annoyed with not having iTunes on a 14 hour flight). I don't think it's attention fodder (nor do I think it's a valid means of protecting flights). Not sure what this is.

reply

[–] ctphipps link

Or people traveling with kids (for whom iPads on board are a saving grace on long haul flights).

reply

[–] uptown link

Saving grace for those traveling adjacent to those traveling with kids too.

reply

[–] uptown link

"Almost no one outside the tech or business communities will really care about this"

That's kind of a massive segment of the population.

reply

[–] jaxn link

To prevent passengers from having access to communication while going through customs. To limit pictures and social media posts in the time between when they get off the plane in the US until their retrieve their checked bags from baggage claim.

reply

[–] koenigdavidmj link

Phones are an exception to this policy, so neither of these is applicable.

reply

[–] maxerickson link

It seems not to apply to cell phones.

Also, the one time I came into the US, I carried my checked bags through customs.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] pcurve link

They'd better have a very good reason for this (e.g. very credible threat). Otherwise even moderates that voted for Trump are going to suffer from serious case of buyer's remorse.

reply

[–] MichaelGG link

Does Trump have many voters flying from Saudi Arabia?

reply

[–] prawn link

This sort of stuff spooks travellers from other countries also ("I saw a headline that said I wasn't allowed to take my laptop to America!"). End result is likely to be a drop in tourism and international students which will hit some industries harder than others.

reply

[–] Cyph0n link

Maybe not the KSA, but Dubai for example is a key connection for travelers from Asia.

reply

[–] pcurve link

No, but his policies are making the U.S. look pretty bad. His hardcore supporters won't care about that, but swing voters that swung his way would.

reply

[–] oxide link

I doubt there is a credible threat prompting this ban. It's appeasement IMO.

reply

[–] sharkmerry link

especially if it only applies to non-stop flights...

reply

[–] MichaelGG link

It wouldn't make any sense otherwise. Non-stop flight is another way of saying "flight to the US", right?

reply

[–] itchyjunk link

"flights to US could include" multi-stop flights. There is a non-stop flight from Singapore to USA i think, leaves airport there and lands here. Multi-stop flights have a stop in EU if they are coming from Asia to USA or they might stop at Japan or something. Eg: Nepal -> HongKong -> Japan -> USA

reply

[–] ctphipps link

In which case the ban would apply to the final sector, but for all intents and purposes, passengers boarding at earlier airports would also be prohibited to bring electronics onboard as checking luggage during a flight connection is pretty much unheard of (unless of course it's an overnight stopover).

reply

[–] itchyjunk link

Your luggage is not with you from the beginning. And the carry on is definitely checked in connecting flights depending on the airport. HK and New Delhi used to have it up to two years ago. Unless they recently changed it.

reply

[–] ArtDev link

and does not apply to cellphones.

"cellphones and medical devices were excluded from the ban."

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] run4yourlives2 link

Piss off brown Muslim people.

Seriously. He couldn't get his ban through (twice), so now he's just going to make it as inconvenient as hell for people from those eight countries to travel to the US. It's a big 'fuck you' to Muslims.

The POTUS is a 3 year old in a man's body.

reply

[–] diminoten link

Without doing any further research than what you did when you made this comment, how long do you believe this ban is for?

reply

[–] coldcode link

I have no idea what the point of this is.

reply

[–] ars link

A cellphone is small, and doesn't have much room, that's all.

It's not the electronics per say, it's the difficulty of checking inside them. That's why only certain airports are included, those that check things properly are not.

reply

[–] gibbitz link

I'm curious what threat an iPad poses that a cellphone doesn't and what a terrorist can't do with a chron job that they would otherwise do with a laptop. It's not like they use a teleporter when they check your bags. It's clear that if our regulations and bureaucrats are all we have to protect us from "evildoers" we're all doomed by their ignorance of the simplicity of working around this...

reply

[–] TillE link

1) We already have screening processes for that.

2) So the bomb is now in the hold. That's not really much of an improvement.

reply

[–] marcoperaza link

Remote or timed detonation is trickier than manual detonation. I'm not familiar with how checked luggage is screened, but it's possible that it is potentially controlled by the US for flights heading to the US, or otherwise more reliable. Again:

>It's a particular concern at these airports because of screening issues and the possibility of terrorists infiltrating authorized airport personnel, the official said.

reply

[–] stuaxo link

Those guys were doing it non-manually when nokias were the phone of choice, and back in the day the IRA probably used plain clocks, it's not going to be much extra hassle for them.

reply

[–] addicted link

Do the physical properties of explosives change when they happen to travel outside these specific airports?

reply

[–] marcoperaza link

No, but if you suspect that a high proportion of potential attackers will originate from a small subset of airports, then you can focus extraordinary security measures on those airports. It's all about tradeoffs.

reply

[–] marcoperaza link

There's lots of snarky and unjustified cynicism here, given that concealing explosives in laptops is not a theoretical risk; it was recently done. Here's an excerpt from the CNN article:

>The official said the move is partly based on intelligence that they believe indicates Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is close to being able to hide explosives with little or no metal content in electronic devices in order to target commercial aircraft. It's a particular concern at these airports because of screening issues and the possibility of terrorists infiltrating authorized airport personnel, the official said. Flight and cabin crews are not covered by these new restrictions. In February 2016, a bomb hidden inside a laptop detonated aboard a Daallo Airlines flight out of Mogadishu, Somalia. The bomber was killed and a hole was blown in the side of the fuselage. The aircraft landed safely.

reply

[–] kylehotchkiss link

The reason people are most upset is because of how widespread theft from baggage is. In many of the destinations you need a gulf carrier to connect you do, you don't want to put a $1000+ device in a checked bag.

I guess you could do the crazy plastic bag warp thing. But that doesn't answer the question of your things being stolen in the USA, which seems even more likely due to the people on the line knowing the value of the things in your pack.

Maybe it's time for a kickstarter for an accelerometer/wifi network logger/audio recorder/camera that all activate when the bag is open so you can receive audio and video of the person stealing your things.

reply

[–] jacquesm link

> Checked in bag is not free. Checked in bags also get manhandled unless you pay hefty to get the fragile tag and insurance.

Assuming it arrives at all... it could be a very expensive bag. And laptops in checked luggage is just asking for them to walk off. There is absolutely no way I'd check my laptop, then again, I'm not planning on going to the United States before the madness stops and if I would I probably would not fly through any country that this is all about.

Even so, it does not strike me as a policy that has been thought about for a very long time. Having laptops in the passenger area means that if something bad does happen something could be done about it.

Having them in the cargo compartment means that if a fire should start it could get quite bad before it gets noticed and the extinguisher gets used.

If they're scared of bombs then they should not be on board at all, cargo hold or passenger compartment doesn't matter.

So I really don't understand the point of this, maybe time will bring me to see the reasoning but right now I can't.

reply

[–] itchyjunk link

When I was passing through Singapore once, two Americans in front of me started taking their shoes off right before the security check. The security officer gave them a weird look and said they can put it back on because he uses a scanner and doesn't need to look inside everyones shoe. Fast forward 3 years and i'm reading comments on HN about double security check not being bad heh.

Checked in bag is not free. Checked in bags also get manhandled unless you pay hefty to get the fragile tag and insurance. For someone cheap like me who carries a backpack which is free so far, the extra cost is my biggest concern. Hope something like this doesn't happen in domestic flights.

Edit: typos

reply

[–] denom link

This wouldn't have anything to do with a certain congressional hearing going on today?

reply

[–] kens link

The article itself mentions thefts after the UK did this in 2006.

reply

[–] komali2 link

Oh neat, true. I still wish I could find a source on it :/

reply

[–] komali2 link

I believe the UK tried this once and I remember reading that thefts were skyrocketing as a result. I'm struggling to find a source though, so this is just my poor memory and hearsay right now.

reply

[–] giarc link

I've used destructible labels before, not for my computer, but for barcoding equipment. They work quite well, only issue might be wear and tear over time will start to naturally destroy the label.

http://images.tamperevidentlabels.com/companies/tampereviden...

reply

[–] JBerlinsky link

I have a feeling that sales of glitter nail polish are going to go up a bit[1].

This is a good time to make sure that you have full-disk encryption enabled, and to brush up on what few rights remain yours at a US border.

1: http://lifehacker.com/use-glitter-nail-polish-to-make-your-l...

reply

[–] modeless link

Look, I hate Trump. But air security policy hasn't been rational for a long time. Don't tie every government dysfunction to Trump.

reply

[–] zzalpha link

They may not be responsible for past policy, but I don't think it unreasonable to blame successive executive branches if they make the policy even more irrational.

reply

[–] wheelerwj link

ill never forget the time when a national gaurd(?) member pointed (but not aimed) a military assat rifle at my little sister and seperated her from my family while they looked through her backpack for the electronics she forgot to empty. it was a scientific calculator, and she was 13 i think? so yeah, agreed. Airtravel hasn't been rational in a long time.

this was sometime in the months following 9/11.

reply

[–] derrickdirge link

Just because it's always been irrational doesn't mean it isn't especially irrational now.

reply

[–] salesguy222 link

I can see where you are coming from. But isn't this a policy directly from the administration?

It seems they've taken a keen interest in making travel very painful for select foreigners. I don't think this is a policy from anyone other than the new government?

reply

[–] belorn link

Does it make more sense than the previous security procedure that everyone passengers had to take off their shoes and have them scanned?

Or the current ban on liquids?

Or the even better idea I saw in Brussels airport of two semi-identical security checks; one to get into the airport and then the "regular" second one. I can only wait for the next improved version of three security checkpoints, which will add 50% more secure then the current two.

After 9/11, sensibility went out the window. This new move is quite far from the stupidest I have seen.

reply

[–] robotresearcher link

Multiple checks are not stupid at all. The screening is not 100% reliable and an independent repeat is a reasonable way to improve detections of weapons, which have been shown to get through sometimes in TSA and third-party experiments.

reply

[–] pavel_lishin link

Vacuuming the living room rug with a broken vacuum twice isn't going to make it significantly cleaner.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] belorn link

I recall reading that TSA has never actually stopped a real threat to a airplane. The screening is one of the least cost-effective security mechanism in use, so are we suggestion that doubling it and the costs is a reasonable way to improve detections?

A reasonable way to detect threats would be to hire more investigators and bomb dogs patrols. Both has shown to be cost-effective and to produce results, in direct contrast to the TSA screening method.

reply

[–] robotresearcher link

I'm not a fan of security theatre. But the TSA does not have to catch anyone to be very effective. In fact it its intended deterrence effect was effective it would never catch anyone at all.

reply

[–] belorn link

So does the deterrence effect increase by the number of screenings? The physiological effect is not measurable in this case, and if we compare it to the placebo effect which is measurable, there is little proof that eating two fake pills has any benefit over eating one.

How big portion of terrorists is likely to completely ignore the fact of one screening but be deterred by the existence of a second one?

reply

[–] robotresearcher link

Rationally, the deterrence should increase monotonically with the chance of being caught.

With two serial 90% effective checks, you have a 99% effective system. Such a low chance of success means attackers should try something else instead.

Now, with probably not even close to 99% screening, along with cockpit doors and fight-motivated passengers, the deterrence seems powerful enough that we are seeing other kinds of attacks.

reply

[–] belorn link

Where did you pull that 90% effectiveness from?

People don't believe 90% in a fake pill, and by eating two get to 99% belief. Either you believe the fake pill will work or you don't. The number of pills don't multiply the placebo effect.

Why believe that security theater, ie fake security, increase the physiological effect in multiplicate way based on the number of identical copies?

If the placebo effect could be multiplied in such a way, every sickness could be cured by just eating more and more sugar. If a fake pill had 1% placebo effect, eating ~500 fake pills would reach 99% effectiveness. That is obviously not how the placebo effect works.

reply

[–] robotresearcher link

X-ray machine screenings are not placebo. They aren't perfect, but if you put a handgun in your carry on, there's a pretty good chance they'll find it.

And yes I know there are failures. But it's not reasonable to say that the current security check is placebo only. Ask yourself: would you put a gun or knife in your carry on to prove the point?

The 90% figure I made up as an example. I don't know the real figure. But I don't fancy my chances getting a weapon through security.

reply

[–] belorn link

Even yourself called it security theater because people have looked at TSA security and never found a single case where it prevented a threat to a airplane.

To quote: "Security theater is the practice of investing in countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually achieve it"

Security theater do not cause 90% prevention. And to be clear, I know several personal cases where a knife has gone through the security check because the person carrying it had forgotten that it was even there. Its not effective, no research say its effective, and all benefits that security checks provide against threat to airplanes are the placebo effect.

Strong doors, investigators, and bomb sniffing dogs. Those are some real security measures found to be effective on airports, airplanes, as well as other places where dangerous people need to be stopped. They are used by both police and the military, and shown to be cost effective. The methods used by airport screening is used by airports, not by the police or the military, and the results are clear.

reply

[–] robotresearcher link

Such strong assertions! Would you take a handgun through airport security?

If you were in charge of a plot, would you base your plan around getting a gun through airport security?

Nope. You'd do something else where you are more likely to succeed.

reply

[–] belorn link

A attacker would be more likely to attack the points in society with lowest perceived security and highest value. As such, if they had a single security check at entering the airport, then the train station before the airport would be the target. If they extended the check to the train station, the highest density area outside the train station. and so on, and so on. Thus the assertion that multiple checks don't help when dealing with perceived security, as long there is a easier target somewhere else.

And the assertions are not mine. Security researchers has published multiple articles on it, and finding commonalities between police and military is just public data. There is not a single security expect that claim that airport screening is cost effective form of security. Feel free to prove me wrong.

reply

[–] kgwgk link

The security check to get into the airport makes sense if you want to avoid terrorist attacks at the airport.

reply

[–] waqf link

Istanbul Atatürk has a security check to get into the airport. Guess what, the terrorists simply attacked the people in line at the first security check!

reply

[–] belorn link

The third screening should naturally be moved to the train station before the airport. That will solve it.

reply

[–] belorn link

But why not just move the original check then to the edge of the airport, expanding the "safe zone".

reply

[–] kgwgk link

The second check to get into a plane is more exhaustive. They let you introduce liquids into the airport!

reply

[–] r00fus link

Spare (laptop) batteries are not allowed as checked luggage [1] (presumably the danger of a shorted battery causing a hull fire or explosion).

Why would a laptop go into checked when an equivalently sized battery not be allowed?

Further discrepancies that show we don't have a rational executive branch.

[1] https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/as...

reply

[–] caf link

Laptops don't have exposed terminals.

reply

[–] aianus link

Neither do the external power packs that are currently banned in checked luggage

reply

[–] sokoloff link

If you buy one with a flashlight function, you could argue that it's a "device" and not a "battery".

reply

[–] darawk link

This is actually fairly rational. I mean, all this airport security stuff is stupid security theater. However, if you're going to do it, you should absolutely ban laptops.

Relevant XKCD: https://xkcd.com/651/

reply

[–] goldenkey link

The TSA wasnt any better under Obama... Don't spin this into a Trump issue

reply

[–] turndown link

The TSA was an Obama issue when Obama was President. The TSA was a Bush issue when Bush was President. The TSA is a Trump issue because Trump is President.

The idea that we can't criticize someone because of X, Y, and Z is ridiculous. Trump is now President. It is now his problem to solve.

reply

[–] barleyworth link

Well, both Obama and Trump inherited a pretty broken TSA. That doesn't mean we shouldn't pay attention to whether the organization is improving or getting worse.

Generally I doubt that a president deserves credit, positive or negative, for changes in random agencies like the TSA. Like, does Obama really deserve bonus points for us being able to use cell phones during takeoff+landing? But you have to admit that a country-specific ban has Trump written all over it. People are rightly pointing out why it's a misguided policy.

reply

[–] salesguy222 link

I agree with you, but isn't this directly from the administration? Surely a rogue bureaucrat wouldn't do this on their own.

And if Trump admin disagreed with it, they wouldn't implement it.

reply

[–] diminoten link

Dude, it's a 96 hour ban, all signs point to this being a targeted response to a specific credible threat.

Chill.

reply

[–] salesguy222 link

I'm chilled, but what do you mean? Can you link me to the chatter about the credible threat?

What if they wait more than 96 hours? What does checking electronics into bags do to keep us safer?

reply

[–] diminoten link

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/324846-feds-tempora...

The subtle arrogance in you asking for the threat Intel is utterly astonishing.

reply

[–] salesguy222 link

I appreciate the link, because the one I read said that the ban was indefinite, but that the airlines had 96 hours to implement.

I also respectfully need to say that any arrogance you perceived from me was something you were reading into in my opinion, rather than something in my words that directly showed arrogance.

I exist to provide logic based and relatively emotionless arguments, not too much cynicism or ill will to fellow commenters.

reply

[–] diminoten link

> I exist to provide logic based and relatively emotionless arguments

Bullshit.

reply

[–] kashkhan link

because the miscreants are too stupid to wait 96 hours.

reply

[–] diminoten link

If you're executing an attack in the next 4 days, you now can't.

Why do you think you know more about international counterterrorism than... Well, anyone?

reply

[–] maxerickson link

It's a little ironic how contentious your tone is in this thread, considering that there were many outlets that didn't follow along with the mischaracterization of the ban that you have based your commenting on.

(I understand that you did see the 96 hour temporary ban in some reports; but even 14 hours ago there were reports not saying that, reports you accused other people of not reading, apparently without reading them yourself (the Bloomberg article didn't contain a time frame when I read it last night, nor the Reuters article I linked in my other reply))

reply

[–] salesguy222 link

You look at this and say to yourself, "this doesn't make any sense! i don't get how allowing cell phones and 'medical devices' (nebulous term) into carry ons, but demanding that laptops go into checked baggage is keeping us safe!"

And you're right! It isn't.

But then you realize that the special interests that came up with this policy were paid LARGE SUMS OF MONEY to impress Trump and all of his supporters and career politician allies. And then you once more realize how incredibly stupid this policy is in reality.

But then it dawns on you that Trump and his allies are either criminally idiotic, or criminally wasteful in their policy pursuits.

Or both!

reply

[–] cperciva link

Apparently some flights to Canada are affected due to passing through US airspace.

reply

[–] madcaptenor link

Nothing so complicated. Royal Jordanian flights from Amman to Detroit stop in Montreal.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/RJA267

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/RJA268

reply

[–] int_19h link

To clarify, US - unique among all countries, so far as I know - asserts that its rules apply in full to any aircraft (and their passengers, luggage etc) traversing its airspace, even if neither the origin nor the destination is actually in US.

reply

[–] pmontra link

> Royal Jordanian said the electronics ban affects its flights to New York, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal.

Montreal, USA?

reply

[–] exabrial link

I'm waiting for media to spin this as "anti Muslim" yet again.

I wonder if the true reason is because USA does not trust overseas security (which doesn't make a lot of sense, you have to recheck your carry-ons/luggage after customs), or if it's a means to get a closer look at your electronics when you're not there, or just because there's been an incident (the TSA actually managed to catch a threat) that we're not privvy to. From what I understand, laptops are a bit harder to xray which is why they're screen separate from other items.

reply

[–] sbuttgereit link

The article makes passing reference at the end, but isn't forcing these devices to be in checked bags actually more dangerous than some vague terrorist threat? While still relatively rare, it seems that Li-ion batteries catching fire in the cargo hold is still a bit more risky than the likelihood of what they're trying to address happening.

(I suspect they are acting on some more credible intelligence in this matter, but clearly not so specific that they can target their actions and have to come up with something that itself poses a risk.)

reply

[–] BrailleHunting link

Hassling visitors arbitrarily, haphazardly and somewhat discriminatorily makes a country less cool and more autocratic. And talent, capital and tax revenue finds other places to which to flock.

reply

[–] andrioni link

The linked article (at least right now, AP via Bloomberg) actually says the ban is indefinite.

>The ban was indefinite, said the official.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-20/some-elec...

reply

[–] boomboomsubban link

The article says indefinite, though it's been updated since you posted.

reply

[–] diminoten link

...I feel like no one here read the article. Based on these comments, one might think that A) this had never happened before (it has), or B) it was permanent (it's a 96 hour ban).

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] nikdaheratik link

This is so frustrating because, even if there is a credible case for putting these limits on these specific airports, the Administration has done so much to trash the reputation of both its own appointees and CBP. You can't help but wonder if there's an ulterior motive to this and they're still understaffed and so poor at getting the message out that we may never be sure.

reply

[–] bzbarsky link

What I find interesting is that neither the article nor any of the comments mentions that the UK is doing the same thing. See http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-airlines-electronics-i...

reply

[–] TuringNYC link

Personally speaking, laptops I can do without, but Kindles are like oxygen on long-haul flights. This is incredibly disappointing.

reply

[–] fpoling link

What is remarkable is that the order bans electronics on flights from Saudi Arabia. I thought Saudi Arabia was still untouchable especially after the travel buns that excluded the country where terrorists harmed US most originated or got financial support. So however weak, it does add a credibility that the ban is based on some intelligence.

reply

[–] jaimex2 link

Wonder how long before you have to check in everything, including clothing where you have to fly in jumpsuites given to you.

reply

[–] KirinDave link

It's not about preventing attacks.

But our new fun game should be putting usb nuke sticks in a small, conspicuous envelope in our luggage, maybe with a few crips hundred dollar bills.

reply

[–] Gargoyle link

Can anyone think of an attack this would prevent? Anything a pad (or even a laptop) could do could be done by a phone, at least hackingwise or whatever. So something with the physical aspect. A jammer of some sort? A way to intentionally explode batteries in a harmful way?

reply

[–] s5fs link

That's why in old scifi movies everyone wears jumpsuits on spaceships, makes getting through security much faster.

reply

[–] somethingsimple link

Sometimes I think this is going to get to a point where they'll have people remove their clothes prior to boarding and dress a special suit so they're allowed to fly without being considered a threat.

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] youjelly link

Permanently infect the EFI on the laptop, while its enroute without your permission. Removing the hard drive is not a remedy, maybe remove the battery as well?

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] BWStearns link

Seems the source couldn't/wouldn't disclose the list. Given it's 8 countries in Middle East/North Africa,my bet is old travel ban countries plus one.

reply

[–] ars link

> Given it's 8 countries in Middle East/North Africa,my bet is old travel ban countries plus one.

That's impossible since neither Saudi nor Jordan were on the old list.

reply

[–] BWStearns link

Fair point. I didn't take away that both were part of the electronics ban from my original reading but that is a reasonable conclusion.

reply

[–] adrienne link

Literally nobody knows. The info hasn't been released, none of the airlines know who the other airlines notified are, and it seems very clear that Jordanian Air violated the "terms" of the bulletin by even making their announcement.

reply

[–] praneshp link

Which countries? From the article, I can glean Saudi and Jordan. Pretty poor journalism (or reading ability on my part)

reply

[–] nthcolumn link

I'm surprised there still are US-Bound flights.

reply

[–] ge96 link

Possible business, rentable laptops.

reply

[–] qordoba link

If the new law does not apply to flights operated by American companies it only shows that this is the beginning of trade war and sanctions against Muslim nations.

It is nothing to do with safety of people. Period.

reply

[–] dang link

You've been breaking the HN guidelines by posting uncivil and unsubstantive comments, and by abusing the site for political battle. We ban accounts that do these things, so please stop doing them.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13918493 and marked it off-topic.

reply

[–] JamilD link

I'd argue that criticizing a new President for taking bad policies even further isn't misguided.

reply

[–] salesguy222 link

Right? I would highlight the negative aspects of any policy from any administration, no matter who or what is involved.

I would then make rational suggestions on how to fix it.

When an administration routinely refuses to follow logic, compromise, betterment of humanity- this law doesn't even help Americans!- then that administration earns my cynicism and disrespect.

reply

[–] yongjik link

> The right to privacy

OK, I'll give you that.

> drone strikes

What? Republicans never had any problem with Obama's drone campaigns, and if you compile a list of Trump's policies Democrats have an issue with now, I doubt drones will be in the top #10. It would be nice if people kept talking about drone strikes and their victims, but we don't. Either under Obama or under Trump.

> Russia

You can't be seriously saying Obama had a Russian connection? Remember, "Hillary will start a war with Russia" was literally a major talking point by Trump supporters.

reply

[–] Svexark link

These senators filibustered for 12 hours in 2013 to protest Obama's drone strikes. It was kind of a big deal at the time. #StandWithRand ring a bell? Perhaps you're not old enough to remember.

Rand Paul (R)

Ted Cruz (R)

Marco Rubio (R)

Mike Lee (R)

Pat Toomey (R)

John Thune (R)

John Barrasso (R)

Tim Scott (R)

John Cornyn (R)

Jerry Moran (R)

Ron Johnson (R)

Jeff Flake (R)

Mitch McConnell (R)

Saxby Chambliss (R)

Mark Kirk (R)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D)

reply

[–] Svexark link

Thank you for your reasonable comment. You're going to get down voted into oblivion for it though. The right to privacy, drone strikes, budgets, Russia, etc. aren't issues until the D after someone's name turns into an R. Get with the program or lose all your internet points, man.

reply

[–] dang link

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13918361 and marked it off-topic.

reply

[–] jacquesm link

Doesn't US bound mean 'towards the US'?

reply

[–] haudouken link

Oh. Bombs then. Arabs trying to bomb us again

reply

[–] jacquesm link

Again?

reply

[–] undefined link
[deleted]

reply

[–] haudouken link

The jews

reply

[–] haudouken link

Probably a really bad attempt to stop the stolen Trump Tower laptop from leaving the US. I almost didn't leave this comment because of how stupid this sounds, but then again...

reply

[–] draw_down link

We are real idiots.

reply

[–] castis link

Only naivety would lead someone to lump all Americans together and claim they are collectively responsible for this.

Also, America is a big place [1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Americas

reply

[–] anigbrowl link

Oddly, that's exactly how I feel about profiling of people from the Middle East.

reply

[–] cyberferret link

Yes, lumping everyone from the same geographic area or ethnic group into one generic stereotype basket can be somewhat irksome.

Note: Not a snarky comeback at your post per se, just that a lot of people tend to be oblivious to generic stereotyping unless they are the subject of it, and I am hoping that others reading this thread may have an "Aha" moment.

Addendum: As big as the US is, if you pooled all land masses that have a majority Muslim population, I believe it would dwarf the USA.

reply

[–] beedogs link

What brave people Americans are lately.

Afraid of an iPad being used on a plane.

reply

[–] jaimex2 link

First thing that came to my mind :)

reply

[–] snowwrestler link

Maybe TSA was up late one night surfing back through the XKCD archive:

https://xkcd.com/651/

reply

[–] ccrush link

Is it really that hard to see that laptops and tablets could be disassembled, sharpened, and re-assembled pre-flight, and then come apart to make a set of very dangerous knives? How is this not expected to be a problem? Maybe, if ass holes didnt hijack airplanes, we wouldn't have these ridiculous restrictions. In the meantime, "I'm gonna need to look inside yo' ass hole, sir."

reply