What you need to know when taking a flight with your electronic devices

By: Benoit Gagnon, Director, Cybersurveillance and Information Security, Quebec Division

So, you’re ready for your next vacation. Vaccine, check! Passport, check! Airplane tickets, check! Luggage, check! Laptop and camera, check!


Everything is a set, and you are ready to experience the best vacation of your life! Heck, you will even be able to use the flight time to write stuff on your blog and work on those pictures you’ll take during your trip.


Well, concerning that, you might discover an unpleasant surprise when you get to the airport.


Some new legislation in the United States is forcing airplane “[…] passengers from bringing laptops, tablet computers, and other electronic devices as carry-on items on nonstop flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa.”


And, in the incoming weeks, it’s possible this legislation will be extended to the United Kingdom and to Canada, too.


In other words, security restrictions concerning electronic devices (e.g. laptop, tablets and other computer-like gadgets) is about to change completely requiring electronic devices to be checked rather than being considered carry-on. That “recreational” time you’ve taken for granted during your flight may soon be history.


And, even though you’re still able to bring those devices in the plane (as of the time of this writing), expect to have them examined by customs and border services agents. Not only will you be asked to start your device in their presence to prove it’s working as it is intended to, you may be asked to provide your device passwords and, in some rare cases, the passwords of your social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter.


What does that mean for future travel?

Bringing your electronic “toys” on a plane is going to become more and more of a burden. It also means that you should not take your privacy protections for granted when crossing a border.

In other words, you might want to think twice next time you want to carry your brand-new laptop on your next trip. Are you sure you want your new baby to endure same treatments that your checked luggage is going to bear?