What To Do If the Laptop Ban Goes Global

“The U.S. is reportedly seriously considering a greatly expanded ban on laptops in airplane cabins,” writes Slashdot reader mirandakatz — sharing some advice from Dan Gillmor. If the government still allows laptops to be checked in with luggage, “the priority will be to discourage tampering and mitigate the risks associated with theft,” he writes, envisioning that “If I have to check mine, I’ll pack it in bubble wrap and tape, and do some other things to make it evident if someone has tampered with the machine.” But of course there’s other precautions:

[W]e can travel with bare-bones operating system setups, with as little personal or business data as possible (preferably none at all) on the laptop’s internal disk drive. When we arrive and get back online, we can work mostly in browsers and retrieve what we need from cloud storage for the specific applications that have to run “locally” on the PC… You might also get a Chromebook for international travel. Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome operating system and keep pretty much all data in Google’s cloud. So you could carry a bare Chromebook through a border, go online, and retrieve the information you need. You have to completely trust Google with this method…

[The article also suggests encrypting the hard disk — along with your phone — or carrying an external drive.] I use the Ubuntu operating system, and this simplifies creating a special travel setup. In preparation for international hassles, I’ve put a copy of my OS and essential data files on an encrypted USB thumb drive, which holds 256 gigabytes of data… If I’ve forgotten to load some specific files, and I have them backed up in the cloud, I can always go there.
Because of all the additional security procedures, he utlimately predicts higher ticket prices, fewer business travellers, and, according to Bruce Schneier, “a new category of ‘trusted travelers’ who are allowed to carry their electronics onto planes.”


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