US imposes stricter security screenings at foreign airports, but won’t expand laptop ban yet

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The United States will require foreign airports to implement stricter security practices and screenings for any passengers headed to the US.

John Kelly, the US secretary of Homeland Security, announced today that the new measures were being put in place. Though he didn’t go into specifics, Kelly said the new requirements would include further screenings of electronics, more thorough vetting of passengers, and measures meant to stop “insider attacks.”

“I am concerned that we are seeing renewed interest on the part of terrorist groups to go after the aviation sector,” Kelly said today.

The US is also encouraging the use of more bomb-detecting dogs, “advanced checkpoint screening technology,” and the addition of “preclearance” locations, which station US customs officers overseas, allowing them to screen passengers before boarding instead of after they land.

For the most part, the details of these plans appear to be kept intentionally vague. Kelly said the measures would be “both seen and unseen” and “phased in over time,” so it’s not clear how much travelers will notice right away. Reuters reports that airlines have 21 days to comply with the new rules for explosives screenings and four months to comply with the everything else.

One thing Kelly didn’t announce was an expansion of the tablet and laptop ban, which is currently in effect on flights from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa. If airports don’t comply with the new screening rules, Kelly said, they may be subject to additional electronics bans. But for the time being, it sounds like the ban will be kept to those 10 locations.

Reuters also points out that, last week, Kelly said he’d like to see the restrictions lifted on those 10 airports “by simply doing the kind of things that we’re talking about here in terms of raising aviation security.” Though in the past, he said an expanded laptop ban was “likely.”

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