Internet and Mobile on Planes? Perhaps Not

The recent discoveries of printer cartridges packed with explosives aboard cargo flights in to the USA and UK have prompted analysts to question whether or not providing internet access and mobile coverage on aircraft is actually a good idea.

The explosive devices included mobile phone circuitry, the suspicion being that the bombers intended to use calls, texts or perhaps even email to detonate the devices.  So although on board mobile coverage and internet may be great for business travellers wanting to stay productive or for staving off the boredom on long haul flights it may also provide terrorists with a new way to blow up planes.

A package could be sent via cargo plane containing a bomb which could be detonated remotely from anywhere on the planet with a text or phone call, alternatively a suicide bomber could put a device in the hold luggage and detonate it via WiFi from the cabin.

Perhaps more worryingly, with more and more phones incorporating GPS functions, it would be relatively simple to build a bomb that would detonate when the plane reached a particular point, say over a major city.

Terrorists have always been quick to incorporate consumer technology into their weapons, the digital watch is still a favourite way of setting off time bombs. The IRA used remote control circuitry from TV remote controls and car central locking systems to set off bombs from a distance. It seems that terrorists have joined the mobile revolution.

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