Of flights, electronic bans and social media addicts

American authorities have recently imposed restrictions on carrying electronic devices on certain flights bound for the US. Passengers are thus not allowed to carry i-Pads, tablets or laptops in the cabin and must put them in checked baggage.

This piece of news may come as a shock to some social media and technology “addicts”. According to reports, the decision is imposed on 10 airports, which are mostly in the Middle East and North Africa and it comes “in response to unspecified terrorism threats.”

The Department of Homeland Security will examine passengers’ electronic devices that are larger than cellular phones, such as laptops, tablets, DVD players and cameras. The airports on which these are restrictions are imposed are in Amman, Cairo, Kuwait, Doha, Dubai, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, Casablanca, Riyadh and Jeddah.

Civil aviation authorities and airline passenger firms announced the decision following which people started sharing this news via Whatsapp and Twitter. Reuters quoted American officials as saying that the ban “had been under consideration since the US government learned of a threat several weeks ago.”

What if banning of tablets and other electronic devices become common across all global airlines? What if these measures are no longer limited to airports but also extend to trains and buses?

Mashari Althayidi

Precautionary measures

These are precautionary security measures, which we cannot argue about even if some people think they reflect paranoia or deprive people of working on their smart electronic devices. Security is above everything else but I will not discuss the circumstances that have called for such strict measure. What caught my attention is something else.

What if banning of tablets and other electronic devices become common across all global airlines? What if these measures are no longer limited to airports but also extend to trains and buses? Who will be harmed in this case? Social media companies and companies that manufacture these electronic devices will certainly be the first to bear the brunt.

These companies make billions of dollars and their revenue model is based on expanding the number of users and connecting them 24/7 no matter where they are, in land, sea or in the air. This simply does not go well with recent American security measures. These companies have great influence and power over global decision-makers.

Here is a question: What will travelers do if they don’t get to work on their smart electronic devices and on social media apps to spend their time on the flight? They will probably sleep, eat, communicate with real human beings or read.

The article was first published in Asharq Al-Awsat.
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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:53 - GMT 06:53
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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