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DHS Will Get Rid Of Laptop Ban, Replace It With 'Enhanced Screening' Measures

29/06/2017 12:27 AM IST | Updated 29/06/2017 1:32 AM IST

The Department of Homeland Security announced enhanced security measures for commercial air travel to the United States on Wednesday. The new policies will replace the electronics ban instituted in March on flights from certain airports. 

Every single flight, on both domestic and foreign airlines, coming into the U.S. from more than 280 airports around the world will be subject to new passenger screening and security measures, both in planes and airports, DHS Secretary John Kelly said Wednesday during a news conference. Laptops and other devices larger than cell phones will be allowed back on those flights if airlines follow the new rules.

DHS wouldn’t reveal the details of these measures for security reasons, but did hint that there would be more security dogs at airports.

The new policies will be implemented in phases, DHS said, and will affect 180 airlines in 105 countries ― and about 2,000 flights and 325,000 passengers per day.

Some of the measures have already been tested at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Boston’s Logan International Airport will be the next test site, according to DHS.

Once airlines have implemented these new requirements, the current ban on electronics will be removed. Yet if an airline fails to comply with the new rules, DHS will subject it to “additional security restrictions,” including an electronics ban in the cabin and cargo areas.

Individual carriers are expected to communicate any changes in protocol to their passengers, DHS added.

George Frey/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A TSA officer checks a traveler's bag at a screening location at Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah.

Commercial flights remain a major target for terrorists, DHS said. Terror groups have developed innovative methods for hiding explosives in electronic devices and for hijacking planes. 

The U.S. electronics ban that’s been in effect since March targeted 10 airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. The ban applied to nine foreign airlines. Immediately following the U.S. announcement, the U.K. government imposed its own ban, which affected both foreign and domestic carriers.

“There’s been repeated [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] and Islamic State attempts to build explosives into electronic devices,” Clinton Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told HuffPost in March. “The threats date to a foiled 2009 plot to fill a printer cartridge with explosives.”

“Our enemies are adaptive and we have to be adaptive as well,” Kelly said Wednesday. “We are taking prudent steps to to make aircraft more secure, to reduce insider threats and to identify suspicious passengers.”

This story has been updated with comment from John Kelly.

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