September 3, 2002

CAA mulls ban on laptops which don't exist

rmdirms writes - Hi, I just had to take a swag at this and toss my off-the-cuff opinion to the "Register.co.uk author.

This "ban" could be a red herring
From: rmdirms
To: john.leyden@theregister.co.uk
Cc: rmdirms@jabybi.com
Date: Mon, 2 Sep 2002 23:53:13 -0700

John,

Consider this: If the ban extends to prohibiting "carry-on" laptops and
electronics, it could be a "stealth mode" effort to minimize the exposure to risk that
certain electronics and jammed backpacks may be carrying aircraft-crippling
electronics. Maybe someone intent on bringing down aircraft figured a way to
do so and only now is the CAA acting on years-old knowledge the airlines were
permitted to quietly ignore. As usual, the US side of things is "if it ain't
broke, don't fix it", in other words, being REactive than PROactive.

I really would like to know if an attenuator or some sort of wave guide could
be retrofitted to inside overhead and floors/decks of the aircraft to diminish the effects of the passengers' equipment. After all, MOST civilian mass-transport aircraft are derived from
military versions built by the SAME aircraft manufacturers. So, why should it
be so difficult for them "EM-Harden" passenger craft? COST. COST is why.
They'd rather take the cheap, easy way out, rather than enable passenger
comforts.

Alternatively, this is an EXCELLENT way for the airlines to hijack privacy,
technology, and information from passengers. See, if passengers communicate
with ground retransmitters, they could do good or illicit things. Moreover,
the airliner is merely a "facilitator" of sorts, providing a data conduit.
BUT, if they can force the passengers to use Airline-provided keyboards, the
airlines can claim THEY, not the passenger, own the medium and content. IF
they don't make such an absurd claim (as, keep in mind, the business data owners or AUTHOR are automatically granted copyright of self-generated material, right?), then the
airlines can gain SOME sort of marketing-skewed access to the interests of
passengers who think "well, I'll do my work on the corporate server since I
cannot take my laptop into the seating area..." (assuming the bandwidth is
there, the antenna hand-off is smooth, and the passenger pays (and ignores
corporate security policies, etc...)).

Also, airlines can at least divert the passengers' attention to properties
pushed by the likes of hollywood and madison avenue. Imagine the money the
airlines can make by forcing passengers to become unwilling but compliant
"eyeballs" and "hits". "If they don't sleep, they' play Airlitair (Airline
Solitare... I coined it first...) or they'll watch a movie in their cramped
chair..."

So, it could be security or insecurity, money or eyeball counts. I think it
is specious for the CAA and the airlines to ban the use or the mere presence
of personal laptops or PDA devices. I think the defense contractors building
the same but modified craft can create a difficult-to-hack command,
shielded/isolated and insulated busway/pathway which accepts ONLY certain
conditioned signals and conditional access. This way, it doesnt matter WHAT
signals or instructions or spurious radiation comes from a laptop. The noise
and stray waves would simply be filterd out. I know this isn't the same as
shielding the aircraft systems from OUTSIDE incursion of signals, but the
principals could, I suspect, be applied from within, simply by improving the
shielding on newer craft (and on the used and never-flown-a-passenger
desert-grounded units, rip out and replace the shielding) and by installing
signal filter, signal conditioning, and other black/grey boxes.

If it was for the DOD or the Air Force One, they'd do it. THOSE planes are
paid for at taxpayer expense. Many commercial craft are in some way
subsidized by DOD-related projects and accounting snafus which give perks to
the aircraft builders, or the airlines and aircraft builders build the costs
and charge them off to the passengers, anyway, right? So, IIFFF I flew
regularly, and I had to pay $10 to $30 extra per flight to cover for the
retrofitting, I'd consider it a small price to pay. That's assuming the extra charge went EXPLICITLY to passenger safety and comfort, and didn't end up tn the pocket of a CEO. (If it ends up in a CEO's pocket, then it's time for people to create a "Corrupt CEO Bounty Hunter" charter... heheh

Well, I've made some reaching assumptions and beat this horse till it oozed,
so I'll stop here...

Regards,

David Syes"

Link: The Register

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