A laptop ban would be a disruptive privacy risk

A laptop ban would be a disruptive privacy risk

Computing on the road may be about to get more complicated, expensive, and risky. For this you can thank people who want to blow airplanes out of the sky — and US officials who see genuine danger and/or an opportunity to engage in “just shut up and do as you’re told” security theater.

But when people like Homeland Security head John Kelly sound ready to drastically restrict travelers’ use of electronics in plane cabins — expanding a limited ban that’s already in place — we need to move into planning mode, not just worrying mode. If you’re among those who travel with a laptop, tablet, or digital camera, get ready for a huge mess.

I’m not going to get into the ban’s logic, or lack of it. As always, we’re not being told what specific threat (if any) the government is responding to — though if history is any lesson, officials prefer to overreact than take the chance that they will be blamed for something that goes wrong later on. Security theater has been the rule since 2001, with occasional positive tweaks but not enough real change.

So what should you do in the event of wider ban on cabin electronics? I asked some security experts for advice. “There is no good advice,” says one of them, Bruce Schneier. “It’s just crazy. Truly crazy.”

But some options for travelers may a bit less bad than others.