The Department of Homeland Security May Ban Laptops on Flights from Europe

Almost two months after it first enacted the contentious laptop ban aboard flights from the Middle East, the US Department of Homeland Security or DHS is now expected to expand the restriction to other countries.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that a United Nations agency has begun an effort to craft global guidance for the use of laptops and other portable electronics in passenger aircraft cabins after the bans upset airline passengers and Middle Eastern carriers.

The ban was first implemented in March after intelligence indicated that terrorist groups were developing significant bombs that could be placed inside a laptop or other large electronic devices.

"No decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration".

Government officials have been meeting with U.S. airlines on a almost weekly basis to discuss how such a ban might be implemented and plan to do so again on Thursday, according to reports.

One issue under discussion is how to ensure that lithium batteries in any large collection of devices stored in airplane holds do not explode midair, officials told Reuters.

The initial ban was devised by Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and the acting administrator of the Transportation Security Administration after incidents like the 2016 bombing of Daallo Airlines Flight 159 in Somalia. Some airline officials say they would need to hire more staff to impose additional restrictions, and they are anxious about how much advance notice they would have.

The DHS in March announced new cabin restrictions on laptops onboard flights originating from airports in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar and Saudi Arabia, due to suspicions that bombs could be concealed in devices taken onto planes, according to Reuters.

European aviation officials did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' questions Wednesday.

USA airlines say they still hope to have a say in how the policy is put into effect at airports to minimize inconvenience to passengers. The expansion is being considered over concerns of radicalized European Union citizens, dual-citizenship European Union citizens who also hold citizenship in Middle Eastern countries, and terrorists flying through Europe to get to the US with a bomb-rigged device - even though Britain (whose London-Heathrow airport is where 17 percent of all flights to the USA originate) also imposed similar restrictions in March.

Kelly told a congressional committee last month that the threat behind the ban is "real". It said that carrying a large number of lithium batteries in the cargo compartment increases the risk of an accidental fire.

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