Australia considers joining laptops-on-planes ban

Security partners have chatted to PM Turnbull and the idea is under consideration

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Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has said the nation is considering signing up for the laptops-on-planes ban imposed by the United States and United Kingdom.

Speaking after announcing a national ship-building plan, Turnbull responded to a question about the ban and said “the government is aware of the changes that have been made and we are looking at it very closely … taking into account all the information and advice we are receiving internationally and we are working very closely with our partners.”

“In due course any announcements will be made formally through the transport minister.”

Turnbull has not indicated if the ban is being actively considered or any timeframe for a decision.

The looming ban on in-cabin laptops on flights to the US from Europe and the UK has been justified on grounds of intelligence suggesting plots to hide explosives in computing devices and detonate them mid-air. The same reasoning was used for the March 2017 ban on in-cabin kit larger than a smartphone on flights from the Middle East to Australia

Several airlines fly direct from the Gulf States to Australia and the nation has troops in Afghanistan, sent others to both Gulf Wars and has experienced domestic attacks in which perpetrators invoked the name of terrorist groups. It's therefore entirely conceivable that those who plotted to attack flights to the USA either had Australia on their lists or added the nation after the ban.

Most flights out of Australia are long haul affairs: it's eight hours to Singapore and 14 to Los Angeles. Most airlines these days have plenty of good in-flight entertainment options, but many have also installed laptop power outlets so that high-flyers can work while flying high and passengers can watch their own stuff without worrying about flat batteries interrupting a televisual binge.

If the ban makes either scenario impossible, airlines will doubtless suffer as travellers defer trips. And then there's the possibility of excessive love being visited upon laptops by over-eager baggage handlers. Which might be bad for insurers, but good for Samsung's impressive DeX dock for the Galaxy S8. ®


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