Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Homeland Security Supporting Book Industry By Banning Electronic Devices On Planes

The title, of course, is the glass half full interpretation.

Al Jazeera, among others, reports:
"The United States is barring passengers on flights originating in eight Muslim-majority countries from carrying any electronic device bigger than a mobile phone, the Department of Homeland Security said.  . .
Laptops, e-readers, cameras, tablets, printers, electronic games and portable DVD players are affected by the ban - which applies to direct flights to the US - but they may still be stowed in the hold in checked baggage."

But I'd also expect luggage is going to take much longer to be ready to be picked up on arrival in the US as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can now look at people's computers without having to take them directly from the owners.  I'm sure Homeland Security has ways to open and copy the contents of people's devices without knowing the passwords.

So people will need to find ways to detect if their computers have been played with while they are separated from them, just to know whether their data has been diddled while their devices were out of their grasp. Here's a four year old post talking about how 'pros' protect their laptops. (Not very well it seems.)

Will this spawn a new industry that provided secure lockboxes to put computers in that would make it a little harder for agents to open them?

This Guardian article questions the logic of the rules.  If they can be used as explosive devices, then they would still be dangerous in cargo areas.  If it's about hacking, well, the article points out that cell phones are computers.  It offers another possibility
"US airlines have been lobbying the Trump administration to intervene in the Persian Gulf, where they have contended for years that the investments in three rapidly expanding airlines in the area – Etihad Airways, Qatar, and Emirates – constitute unfair government subsidies with which Delta, American and United cannot compete. All three Middle Eastern airlines are among the carriers affected by the electronics ban."
I guess when you are as unpredictable as our president, people will believe he would meddle with anything in any way he pleases.

I'm sticking with the idea that DHS (or some other security agency) wants access to what's on people's computers.   Is anyone going to keep track of how long it takes for luggage to get through before and after this policy goes into effect?

Will the cloud enable people to take essentially empty computers through customs and other governmental checkpoints?  But then who's protecting the cloud?

When do we declare privacy officially extinct?

And here's a Washington Post article asking similar questions.

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