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Print 41 comment(s) - last by Adonlude.. on Jul 10 at 12:32 PM

Some passengers on international flights destined for the United States will need to "charge up" before boarding

It looks as though the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) seemingly haphazard screening process is about to get a bit more cumbersome for international travelers. NBC News was among the first to report that due to new terror threats from organizations like al Qaeda, travelers on U.S.-bound flights will have to prove that their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices can turn on before they board their flights.
 
Apparently, the TSA is concerned that al Qaeda could implant explosive devices within non-functional smartphones, tablets, or notebook computers in order to later detonate them while aboard an airliner.

 
The TSA provided a bit more clarity on the new guidelines with the following statement:
 
As the traveling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers. During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening.
 
Travelers affected by the latest TSA restrictions would be “processed” from U.S.-bound flights originating from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

Sources: NBC News [1], [2], Transportation Security Administration



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All over the news, but is it really "new?"
By CZroe on 7/7/2014 11:03:06 AM , Rating: 3
Every time I have ever taken a carry-on electronic device on an airplane I have been asked to turn it on. If it can't turn on then it should be in checked luggage.

I remember having to turn on my the red Play it Loud series Gameboy I was using in the '90s, my Nintendo DS in 2005, and my laptop in 2007.

Obviously, if it doesn't turn on then I will be subject to increased scrutiny. *OBVIOUSLY*

Now, the article says that passengers may be prevented from boarding when it is actually their devices that would be prevented. Sure, they might be "prevented" if they refuse to go without the device or if something else came up during the increased scrutiny, but it still shouldn't be reported that way.




RE: All over the news, but is it really "new?"
By GTVic on 7/7/2014 9:12:27 PM , Rating: 2
OBVIOUSLY, why? If someone figures out how to make a bomb look like a folded shirt or a book, should every traveller then expect to be forced to try on all of their shirts or page through all of their books in order to prove they are not bombs. Donald Trump should be forced to remove his hairpiece under that logic.


RE: All over the news, but is it really "new?"
By CZroe on 7/8/2014 12:36:06 AM , Rating: 2
"Obviously" because it was the whole *point* of asking me to turn it on. "Obviously" is to say that it is accepted as normal/OK or not, I'm simply saying that it has been the case for ages.

IOW, you have to be ignorant to think this is new and yet suddenly it's all over TV and and online with the press being willfully ignorant/alarmist by saying "new...," "new...," "NEW..."


By Adonlude on 7/10/2014 12:32:46 PM , Rating: 2
Its a bit silly to assume that you can't pack explosives into a laptop AND make it able to turn on. There is plenty of open space inside a 17" laptop not to mention how easy it would be to take out the hard drive and heat sinks and make a custom battery that leaves all that space open with enough juice for a 5 minute power up.


useless
By snyper256 on 7/7/2014 4:01:39 PM , Rating: 2
They just have to waste everyone's time, right?
What a bunch of buffoons.




RE: useless
By Dorkyman on 7/8/2014 11:22:31 AM , Rating: 2
Right now the TSA screening program is rapidly evolving into a two-path model. The first path is for TSApre flyers who have gone through a background check and as a result just breeze through the process with barely a metal detector screening. The second path will be for the rest, with increased scanning, laptop checking, and so forth.

I'm okay with that, since I spent my $80 and have a TSApre pass. The rest of the travelers can do what they want.


RE: useless
By Schrag4 on 7/8/2014 1:58:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm okay with that, since I spent my $80 and have a TSApre pass. The rest of the travelers can do what they want.


You're OK with an $80 charge to not be hassled? And you're OK with the idea that a fee and a background check will stop all potential attacks? This system seems, to me, to make it easier for someone to carry out an attack. They just need to find someone with a clean record to board the plane so they will face less scrutiny, right?


.
By StevoLincolnite on 7/6/14, Rating: -1
RE: .
By Samus on 7/7/2014 12:01:06 AM , Rating: 5
Well with that mindset, the terrorists have certainly won.

However, I don't see anything preventing a terrorist organization from fitting explosives inside a functional electronic device. I'm reminded of Jurassic Park's shaving cream can that acted as a cooling chamber to smuggle dinosaur DNA, while still holding...shaving cream.

So yes, it is yet another inconvenience to travelers that inevitably yields no practical security improvement.


RE: .
By Mr_Fried on 7/7/14, Rating: -1
RE: .
By althaz on 7/7/2014 12:54:08 AM , Rating: 5
It's well-known and shows what he meant, it obviously wasn't meant to be an example of a real-world implementation. I know this is the internet, but do you really have to be that stupid?

Also, there's plenty of room in most laptops to fit a big-enough explosive to take down an aeroplane.


RE: .
By HostileEffect on 7/7/2014 1:10:33 AM , Rating: 2
Inspections in Japan, yeah, they had the nerve to test the bottom of every spray under the sink.


RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 7/7/2014 10:59:39 AM , Rating: 3
If done right, lets say using a double walled design with a vacuum between them, the Jurassic Park shaving cream thing is entirely plausible.

But back to the topic, this move is entirely pointless. It only takes a pound of very common explosives to take down an airliner.

If all they are doing is testing if the device will actually boot up, how hard would it be to put a much smaller battery in a laptop (just enough for a few minutes) and fill the rest of the compartment with an explosive?


RE: .
By bigboxes on 7/7/2014 11:06:00 AM , Rating: 2
Thought the same thing. Oh oh... I expect a visit from the NSA at any moment.


RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 7/7/2014 11:32:40 AM , Rating: 2
Oh I wouldn't worry about that. The NSA doesn't do house calls.

But they know people who do...


RE: .
By flatrock on 7/7/2014 11:59:59 AM , Rating: 2
It would likely be noticeable on the x-ray that the "battery" wasn't made up of all the same substance. It might be hard to tell an explosive from a battery on the xray, but less so if the two are right next to each other, or are being pieced together.


RE: .
By sorry dog on 7/7/2014 2:53:19 PM , Rating: 2
just for arguments sake...

use narrower cells and mold the explosive around it. However, one of the posts above mentioned a pound of explosive being common. Hopefully, RDX, TNT, and other equivalents are not so easy to obtain and handle.


RE: .
By Murloc on 7/7/2014 4:00:59 PM , Rating: 2
okay just replace the hard disk.


RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 7/7/2014 5:45:04 PM , Rating: 2
It would be SO easy to defeat the X-ray machine. Just saying.


RE: .
By Solandri on 7/7/2014 1:22:56 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
because the cryogenic shaving cream canister from Jurassic Park was real...

It's real. Well, the cryogenic part was made up. But I'm sure you could install one if you really wanted to.

http://www.amazon.com/Barbasol-Shaving-Cream-Diver...


RE: .
By PrinceGaz on 7/7/2014 7:51:16 AM , Rating: 3
he meant a dual-function device.

Given that these terrorists seem capable of creating quite novel explosives and required detonation mechanisms, I'm quite sure they could fit a laptop with a non-standard smaller capacity battery which is quite capable of running the laptop for ample time to pass all security checks, leaving ample space for something even more explosive to be fitted next to the battery.


RE: .
By inighthawki on 7/7/2014 11:36:38 AM , Rating: 2
Many laptops can also be fitted with a second battery or hard drive, leaving plenty of room even if they didn't want to shrink the primary battery size. Get the thing to boot Linux off an SD card and you also have the primary HD bay as well.


RE: .
By flatrock on 7/7/2014 12:10:32 PM , Rating: 2
You do realize that your laptop or other device still goes through the x-ray machine and that having you turn the device on is just an additional step to address some weakness in their screening process, not the entire screening process itself?

My guess is that an explosive can look a lot like a battery, but if you put both in the same device in different bays they would almost certainly look different. Of course this means that if you put an OEM battery in one bay, and a aftermarket one in another bay you may end up in secondary screening while they make sure one isn't a bomb.


RE: .
By Solandri on 7/7/2014 1:33:40 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
However, I don't see anything preventing a terrorist organization from fitting explosives inside a functional electronic device.

Pan Am 103 was brought down by a bomb in a radio cassette player hidden in luggage in the cargo hold.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_Am_Flight_103#Inv...

AFAIK, the only security improvement since then is that luggage is now matched with the passengers, to insure that only suicide bombers can bomb a plane.

At some point you have to recognize that that technology opens up many more avenues to hide a bomb aboard a plane than means to detect them. You have to decide that a certain level of risk is unavoidable, and just live with that risk. Not give the TSA unlimited powers to inspect, grope, and harass passengers in the name of reducing that last 0.0001% of danger. Flying is already safer than driving, and your chance of being killed in a terrorist attack is less than your chances of being killed by lightning. Is it really worth giving up all our Constitutional rights for that tiny smidgeon of extra safety when flying?


RE: .
By poohbear on 7/7/2014 2:11:10 AM , Rating: 5
"security" has been the excuse of every tyrant since time immemorial. question is how much freedom are u willing to give up for "security" and at what point does the government exceed that line.


RE: .
By wordsworm on 7/7/2014 4:13:55 AM , Rating: 1
On the other hand, if you or someone you love does get on an airplane and terrorists blow it up for whatever reason, you're going to want to know why they didn't grope the right guy/girl to prevent it from happening.


RE: .
By Manch on 7/7/2014 7:16:00 AM , Rating: 2
Even now they don't grope the right guy/girl because profiling is wrong...


RE: .
By wolrah on 7/7/2014 8:56:27 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but as far as rational discussion goes that doesn't matter. Emotion has no place in discussions like this, so as much as victims' friends and family think their opinions matter they're best left ignored.

It's like asking a mother of three young kids what the speed limit should be in front of her house instead of asking a traffic engineer. One person is trained to come up with the right answer, the other is emotional and thinking only of their own side of things.


RE: .
By Reclaimer77 on 7/7/2014 11:06:18 AM , Rating: 1
Yes well in real life the people voting politicians in or out are all full of emotion.

Why do you think we have the TSA and the Patriot Act and everything else? The voters cried out in unison "how could this happen (911)??"

quote:
so as much as victims' friends and family think their opinions matter they're best left ignored.


Wow that's pretty harsh.

quote:
It's like asking a mother of three young kids what the speed limit should be in front of her house instead of asking a traffic engineer.


What the hell? That "traffic engineer" doesn't have to live with the decision he's made, she does. Saying she shouldn't have a say in it, or even an opinion, is pretty freaking heartless.

This isn't planet Vulcan, pure logic can't be used to solve every issue.


RE: .
By moremilk on 7/7/2014 1:31:05 PM , Rating: 2
you're missing the point, on purpose or by accident

what if the mom really, really fears technology and is paranoid about government monitoring and wants all cars, cellphone signals and heart implants banned on her street (because, as most people know, the government monitors people through those devices and cellphone signals cause cancer)?

either we let people who have the training and emotional detachment make rational decisions, or we submit to everybody's whim.

sure, moms should have opinions - in the proper forum (voting). If mom wants to ban cars on her street, she should either vote for a politician that champions that cause, or try to get herself elected on that platform ...


RE: .
By Flunk on 7/7/14, Rating: 0
RE: .
By BRB29 on 7/7/2014 10:00:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
I don't see anything preventing a terrorist organization from fitting explosives inside a functional electronic device


They didn't do this because it yields no practical benefits. It is probably from prior incidents.

It is possible to still do what you claim but it is much harder. There's no 100% fool proof plan. They are just making it extremely hard for them to get through security. Even then, there's still more security measures. If there wasn't, then you would see a lot more planes falling out of the sky or hijacked.


RE: .
By ritualm on 7/8/2014 1:49:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It is possible to still do what you claim but it is much harder. There's no 100% fool proof plan. They are just making it extremely hard for them to get through security. Even then, there's still more security measures. If there wasn't, then you would see a lot more planes falling out of the sky or hijacked.

Why go through TSA-manned screening areas when the security for airport workers are far easier to circumvent?

All of these half-measures are a crock of BS. They inconvenience the rest of the flying public and do absolutely nothing to improve actual security.


RE: .
By Motoman on 7/7/2014 10:56:52 AM , Rating: 2
This has all happened before, and will all happen again...

Nearly 20 years ago, when I started working for a large software company that I had to travel all the time for, I was regularly required to demonstrate that my laptop would power on.

As time passed, the requirement went away. And now it's back.

The problem is that it would take a truly tiny little circuitboard and watch battery to show a POST screen for the 2 seconds that the gate personnel actually want to see something run. Half a Raspberry Pi would do the trick.

The demonstration is therefore meaningless. If I'm savvy enough to rig up a laptop full of explosives, I'm savvy enough to put a tiny bit of tech in it so it can show a POST screen.

Yet another worthless bit of security theater, like everything the TSA does. The entire enterprise should be banned.


RE: .
By inperfectdarkness on 7/7/2014 12:41:41 AM , Rating: 2
Here's a thought...

Why not just put these devices through one of those "sniffer" machines that is supposed to detect explosives? Even a device which mimics working--yet houses a bomb--would most likely NOT make it through said sniffer machine without tripping an alarm.


RE: .
By tonyswash on 7/7/14, Rating: 0
RE: .
By inighthawki on 7/7/2014 11:42:09 AM , Rating: 2
I don't understand, explosives have nothing to do with Apple...


RE: .
By hpglow on 7/7/2014 1:00:11 AM , Rating: 2
We will shed a tear. Right now babys are crying because you won't visit anymore.

I don't know how this is new news. I took flights to vegas and st. Thomas last year and both flights I was asked to turn the display on my phone, tablet, and 3DS. Although they didn't bug my wife at all.


RE: .
By xti on 7/7/2014 1:06:25 AM , Rating: 2
doesn't mean you cant just plug it in if TSA tells you to power it on.

this story is making a big deal about nothing.


RE: .
By Mitch101 on 7/7/2014 1:57:44 AM , Rating: 2
I think its good information to know that might prevent someone from getting delayed while their device charges up.

Ill extend the olive branch and say thanks for the heads up Brandon.

On the flip side I would think those batter chargers and extra batteries would be suspect devices. Hope they have a good method to check them.


RE: .
By Manch on 7/7/2014 7:19:50 AM , Rating: 2
extra batteries, external batteries, and those quick chargers already have restrictions on them. I had an external battery back in 2003 that I would use with my Laptop. It was the same size as the screen! It along with the laptop battery allowed about 10+ hours of video, games, etc. Which is great when trying to keep from getting stir crazy on a 12+ hour flight.


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