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Blunder renders UK laptop security order futile

March 29, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The British Government’s ban on carry-on electronic devices on flights from certain Middle Eastern points is only as good as airport security – and a major airport involved has a security flaw so glaring it makes the rigorous checks pointless.

That’s the conclusion of investigative newspaper reporters from Britain’s Independent, who visited Istanbul Ataturk airport and noticed that after clearing six separate security checks there, London-bound passengers found themselves mingling in the gate area with newly arrived travellers who had faced no extra checks.

The incoming passengers wandered through an area meant to be security sterile. This would technically allow an unscreened arriving passenger to pass something to a boarding passenger who had already been rigorously screened. As terrorists always seek the weakest link, that sort of flaw is what they would look for.

From last weekend, by order of Britain’s Department for Transport, all airlines flying to British airports from Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia must remove laptop computers, tablets and e-readers from passengers’ cabin baggage. The devices must be transported in the hold.

Turkey is the biggest country affected in terms of passenger numbers and numbers of flights. The Independent’s revelations about Istanbul Ataturk are even more surprising because the airport is supposed to have tightened security after terrorist gunmen launched an attack there in June last year that killed more than 40 passengers and staff.

The Independent said it reported the breach of security to Turkish Airlines and to the UK Department for Transport.

Britain’s in-flight electronics ban is a variant of similar rules imposed a week earlier by the US.

Written by Peter Needham

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