John Battelle was on a Wi-Fi-enabled fight with United Airlines last night, and he decided to use videochat to say goodnight to his kids. Unfortunately, a flight attendant told him it was illegal.
The reasoning? Videochat could be used to coordinate terrorist attacks. Good thing he didn't have email or IM access!
So what's a curious guy to do? To the Internet! Which is exactly what I did. Responses starting pouring in. Including one from a pal at the State Department, who echoed my basic goal: To use video chat to tuck my kids into bed isn't a crime. Or at least, shouldn't be.
The flight attendant just showed me the United policy manual which prohibits "two way devices" from communicating with the ground. However, the PLANE HAS WIFI. To combat this, not unlike China, United and other airlines have blocked Skype and other known video chat offenders. Apparently, they missed Apple iChat. Oops.
The reason that in-flight videochat is frowned about is because it's annoying to fellow passengers, not because of terrorists. But who needs to know that when you can just claim something is against the law? [Battelle Media via Boing Boing]