Laptop ban for US citizens on flights will result in more stolen laptops, damage claims, identity theft, and invasion of privacy

By Ben Alonzo 0 Comments

Who could possibly think that leaving your expensive items with a stranger for 8 hours was ever a good idea? The security history of airlines isn’t that stellar, especially when it comes to expensive luggage. We also know that the TSA isn’t exactly trustworthy or effective. In fact, much of airport security measures are a total failure, waste of money, and false sense of security, according to reports. Air travel could be getting much worse, if laptops are banned. The premise of a laptop ban is actually lacking any scientific basis. Putting lots of laptops in the cargo area of an aircraft increases the risk of a deadly fire. Then, there’s the issue of what you will do on that next long flight — without any phone or laptop.

Laptop Bans: Another Dumb Idea

A laptop ban would require people to check their expensive computers in checked baggage. The chances of getting your laptop stolen or crews losing your computer will dramatically increase. It’s not just the value of the laptop, it’s the priceless data on it. The average person might have priceless family pictures and financial data. In other cases, a business traveler might have priceless business, financial, or other sensitive data on their laptops. Any laptop ban would cause an immediate and significant hike in lost, stolen, and damaged computers – everyone loses.

The rule for traveling was to never be apart from your valuables. Never check your expensive items. After all, what could go wrong leaving your expensive stuff with strangers for 6-19 hours? You shouldn’t trust anyone at an airport to keep your valuables secured. Another passenger could also steal your laptop (check out this story). Obviously, your laptop should be within your sight at all times.

There are reports going back to 2008 that already indicated over 637,000 laptops are lost annually at US airports. Think of the cost of the laptop as well as the data on it. Because laptops and tablets are more popular today, that number has likely exploded to something much higher. Laptops and tablets can have all kinds of personal data on them. When someone loses a computer, they also lose the data on it. There must be a consideration for the cost of the computer as well as the value of the data. Don’t expect airlines to pay out for your lost or damaged laptop or the data.

There’s also news of arrests being made because baggage handlers were stealing items. The point being – any time your laptop isn’t right in front of you, the risk of theft or damage dramatically increases. Are you willing to lose your laptop? How much is your data worth?

Most people don’t secure their data, leaving it unencrypted. Your data is viewable by anyone, even if you have a password, if your hard drive isn’t encrypted. In this case, once a person has your laptop, accessing your data takes only a few minutes of minor work.

The idea of a laptop ban on flights is just another knee-jerk reaction, typical in America, which often hides behind the appeal of security or piece of mind. Stupid people are willing to give up their freedoms, rights, and personal privacy, in exchange for a false sense of security. There are metal detectors, body scanners, explosive tests, and pat downs at airports. These measures are an overwhelming failure, but they present a good security show that has the appearance of being effective. If a laptop ban is required, it must be further evidence that any and all existing airport security measures are a total failure, waste of money, and nothing more than an invasion of privacy for passengers. How much are people willing to put up with before they stop flying?

Modern batteries are capable of explosions, which is statistically rare for airlines, considering all of the batteries carried by passengers every day. It might even be more dangerous to require people to keep these batteries in the bottom of the aircraft’s storage area because detection and intervention would be slowed or impossible during flight.
Aviation safety experts, like John Cox, say that putting lots of laptops in the aircraft’s cargo area is worse than having them in the cabin as carry-on. The halon-based fire suppression system common on aircraft isn’t very effective against lithium-ion battery fires. Any battery in the cargo are that catches fire would likely cause a chain reaction.


Basically, this laptop ban would actually result in an increase in catastrophic aircraft fires. Fires in the cargo area wouldn’t be noticed as fast as in the cabin and there would be less time for interventions. Everyone will be at risk of death with a laptop ban.

Traveling by plane in the US today is embarrassing, especially for a country that claims to be the best in the world. Passengers are treated like prisoners, regularly getting sexually assaulted by the TSA, which can be seen on numerous videos across YouTube.

Ridiculous. Where is the outrage over this?
Ridiculous. Where is the outrage over this?
Ridiculous. Where is the outrage over this?

TSA members can be seen putting their hands in people’s pants with dirty gloves, touching underwear and genitals, spreading who knows what. These people are all obviously not terrorists or threats to security in any way, shape, or form. Dirty gloves mean that when they put their hands inside your pants, they’re transferring whatever was on the skin of the thousands of people they touched before you.

Using contaminated gloves will contaminate anyone you contact. Using contaminated gloves for testing purposes is also unscientific, unethical, and flaws any test you’re conducting. Despite these facts, this is exactly what the TSA is doing.

A search of Google produces plenty of evidence that most airport security measures are nothing more than a failure, false sense of security, and invasion of privacy. The LA Times reports that TSA tests have as high as a 95% failure rate. Since when is 95% failure acceptable and why do lawmakers and the public put up with it?

It’s surprising that this has gone on for so long because this is unconstitutional. Again, people still put up with this and continue to fly. It’s odd that people get upset by random, sensationalized news media stories about people getting kicked off of flights, but most people don’t seem to care about the outrageous practices, sexual assault, and invasion of privacy taking place on a daily basis.

Passengers feel limited because they were never asked for input on how a laptop ban might impact them. However, some creative passengers are starting to take charge by not flying anymore. Sometimes, the financial loss from people taking action sends a loud message to air carriers and lawmakers.

The 8 Hour Rule

We asked for feedback from some of our readers about the possible laptop ban. Many passengers are thinking twice about the already unpleasant experience of air travel.

“I finally started to do the 8 hour rule. If something is no more than 8 hours of a drive away, I will just drive there. There’s no hassle, no tickets, no TSA touching my junk, and it’s cheaper”, says Chris F of South Carolina.

Driving to your location might take you longer, but you get to keep your dignity, laptop with you, and save money.
Besides using the 8 hour rule, you might consider writing to Congress demanding that they use sound science and object to any aircraft laptop ban. There is no scientific basis for a laptop ban. Other security measures could be implemented with less negative impact to non-threatening US citizen travelers.

Will you be using the 8 hour rule?

If you plan on traveling, and if this laptop ban happens, you better get good insurance, encrypt your computer, and expect to have it lost, damaged, or stolen. Don’t forget that the long flight just got worse because now you have nothing to do, except sit in that uncomfortable paper-thin seat and think about how much dignity you’ve lost.

About Author: Ben Alonzo is a scientist, tech expert, professor, and director of He’s currently CEO of the media and tech firm Storm Sector. Ben holds an M.S. in Geoscience, M.S. in Nutrition and Health Sciences, and a B.S. in Geoscience. He’s a highly-rated professor that teaches several courses at multiple colleges, including earth science, environmental science, oceanography, meteorology, and public health. His diverse background spans numerous science fields, enterprise network and computer systems, healthcare, telecommunications, weather forecasting, consumer electronics, computer programming, and web development. Ben holds numerous professional licenses and certifications, ranging from information technology to healthcare and emergency medical technician. He’s been writing about science and technology for over 10 years. You can also see some of his past articles on the Houston Chronicle, eHow, Sciencing, Hearst, and other news networks. In his free time, he loves to scuba dive, travel, and write guitar music. More about the author.
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