Obviously, my answer is NO. But it’s not like the TSA takes my opinions to heart…
Here’s the latest buzz: mobile phones and Wi-Fi may be used to blow up an airplane, so the TSA is considering banning them.
It was revealed on 29 October that parcels containing a powdered explosive packed in laser printer cartridges had travelled undetected on aircraft to the UK and to Dubai in the UAE. A cellphone connected to a detonation circuit could have allowed a terrorist to trigger an explosion by calling or texting the phone.
We know that the TSA is a reactionary agency and we must concede that a cell phone, in the context described above, does pose some threat to passenger safety. We must also concede that wireless internet technology may make the detonation of an explosive device onboard an aircraft easier.
That leads me to the glum conclusion that despite the tremendous investment airlines have made in inflight internet, the TSA will ban wireless communications onboard aircraft, perhaps as soon as by the end of the year.
The sad thing is that there remain countless ways of coordinating an attack without using a mobile phone. Banning mobile phones and Wi-Fi will prevent one mode of potential attack, yet hardly foreclose the ability of a critical thinker to find another way to bring a plane down.
Once again, we’re faced with a cost-benefit analysis that pits safety against freedom and in this case, economics. A balancing test is appropriate, but banning mobile phones is out of the question and even with a ban against in-flight cell phone usage, as we are all aware, you can still occasionally pick up a cell phone signal if you are traveling low enough. Mission accomplished.
I sure hope I’m wrong, but who’s going to argue that news of such a ban would be a surprise? With economics at stake this time (rather than just civil liberties), maybe this proposal won’t get past the drawing board. But I doubt it…