Laptop travel ban poses threat to US-Turkey trade, investment and tech industry

ISTANBUL (March 21, 2017) – The U.S. government today announced an indefinite ban on laptops, tablets and most other electronic devices in carry-on baggage on flights originating from Turkey and several countries in the Middle East. We call for an immediate review and limitation or suspension of the measures, which pose a grave threat to individual rights of travelers and the global digital economy.

The ban, as detailed by national carrier Turkish Airlines, raises significant barriers for trade and investment between the US and Turkey. It is impractical, and often against policy to carry work laptops in checked luggage on international flights. To do so poses fundamental digital security dangers and heightens the risk of information leaks, including the potential loss of personal details of U.S. and Turkish citizens, loss of U.S. and Turkish intellectual property to foreign actors, as well as an increased logistical risks of loss or damage to business equipment by airside handlers.

Safety concerns have been raised relating to the transport of flammable power sources in the hold of aircraft. On a practical level, Turkish and American businesses cannot afford to lose 12 hours of productive in-flight time during frequent business flights, during which investors and digital workers rely on carry-on laptops to do their job.

The ban directly impacts digital prosperity and individual freedom, posing an immediate and real threat to our countries’ shared interests, tech startup economies, as well as bilateral investments which support thousands of American jobs.

While we recognize that security measures are essential to keep the public safe, they must be implemented proportionately to the level of the threat and carry clear time limitations to limit collateral damage to society. We call on authorities to review the policy, and seek exceptions or suspension of the aforementioned technology ban in the shortest time-frame.

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