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back to article USA to insist on pre-flight mobe power probe

The USA's Transport Security Administration (TSA) has announced new, “enhanced security measures” that will require mobile phones to be charged before taken aboard international flights to the nation. The new requirement is simple. As explained here, the new arrangements will mean that “During the security examination, officers …

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WTF?

New???

Seems they were doing that at least 5 years ago for domestic flights. I was always asked to turn on the cell phone and laptop to verify they worked. So Stateside, we were doing something that wasn't done outside the States? Another case of left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? Or was it that domestic terrorists were smarter than non-domestic terrorists????

Enquiring minds and all that.....

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Facepalm

Re: New???

Yeah, and it isn't as if you couldn't put a smaller battery in the device and use the rest of the cavity for something with a little more "bang" for your buck...

Checking the devices haven't been tampered with is one thing, but "just turning them on" is a little like doing an MOT by seeing if the starter motor works, without checking the brakes work...

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Re: New???

The electronics are getting xrayed anyway. Batteries stick out like a sore thumb on the scanners. My guess is a battery full of lithium isn't too easy to spot vs pack of something nasty - but it's easy to spot if you have a small battery next to a separate pack of something nasty in the cavity.

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Maybe

Instead of asking you to turn it on and turn if off again they should check all those 3rd party chargers that have a tendency to explode.....

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Anonymous Coward

Hysteria

WARNING: the suspicious use of an electronic device in this aircraft may result in serious harm to the users.

Namely being attacked by other passengers or shot by an Air Marshall.

Of course this has coincided with airlines allowing the use of electronic devices during flight as they are now deemed 'safe'.

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Anonymous Coward

Apple

Apple phones and devices are of course exempt.

Something to do with them being almost impossible to repair?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Apple

everyone knows that Apple phones are liable to spontaneously combusting without any changes to the battery, hence no need to turn it on to check

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Re: New???

"Seems they were doing that at least 5 years ago for domestic flights. I was always asked to turn on the cell phone and laptop to verify they worked. So Stateside, we were doing something that wasn't done outside the States?"

Several years ago I was asked by security (at Bergamo, Italy) to switch my laptop on before I could carry on through to board my flight home to the UK.

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Re: New???

"but it's easy to spot if you have a small battery next to a separate pack of something nasty in the cavity."

Not if they are the same width unless you try and xray edge on ...

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Re: Apple

According to the BBC article, I read earlier, Reuters reported that Apple and Samsung have been singled out for extra checks.

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Re: Maybe

Now I know where all the help desk drones went when the "service" was outsourced to the Sub-continent.

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Re: New???

You definitely don't want something nasty in your cavity!

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Mushroom

Re: New???

My old TF101 has a rather large space in its keyboard between the battery packs with a metal weight to stop it tipping over. Easily replaced with something a bit more "energetic".

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Re: New???

Or a laptop where you can swap the cdrom for a 2nd "battery" !

But it would be very difficult to spot a small cellphone/tablet battery on the circuit board if both main batteries where naughty.

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Facepalm

Re: New???

No, this is not new in Europe either. I was asked to demonstrate that I could take a photo with my camera at NRW 3 or 4 years ago and I also remember having to boot an Asus 701 EEE PC, probably at BCN, maybe 6 years ago.

Short memories?

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Pint

Re: New???

"...demonstrate that I could take a photo with my camera at NRW..."

Take a picture of the "PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT PERMITTED IN THE SCREENING AREA" sign.

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Re: easy to spot if you have a small battery

Up to a point, Lord Copper.

If the split is done in the thickness then maybe not. They don't x-Ray from the side.

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Re: New???

> it's easy to spot if you have a small battery next to a separate pack of something nasty in the cavity.

So then... just x-ray it? My Dell has two battery compartments...

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Sounds fair as long as they can manage the queues. Especially if they want me to power up my portable NAS if I'm travelling with that.

I'm fortunate here in Australia that no-one has asked me to take off my boots (even though I see lots of people do it in the lineup). With my two arthritic hips, it's long uncomfortable or painful procedure to get my boots off, and I'll be quite likely to say THEY can bend over and undo my laces, because I ain't going through that again. I imagine they would be less than pleased. More so when I hold up the line sitting on the floor struggling with my laces.

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Although Oz is now my permanent home, the only time I've had a holdup at immigration before I settled here was at Sydney Airport when I stated I had nothing to declare and the bloke checking my passport looked up at my (admittedly garish) Manga shirt (Black, with a big yellow cloaked warrior emblazoned on the front - hey, they were all the rage..... once) and said 'Jesus, mate. I hope you're going to declare that bloody shirt!'

I kinda fell in love with the country there and then

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Maybe the DHS and TSA should outsource their checks to Oz. Now a guy with that sort of humour checking me through security would actually make it worthwhile travelling!

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Ah, airports

I recall travelling through Heathrow and reaching a security check with an ominous "Wait here" line. Having just come from the States I obeyed it, having been yelled at for this over there. The guard looked up after a few minutes and politely enquired as to why exactly I was standing around like some kind of lemon and would i like to come forward.

I mentioned I was just in from the States and he said "Ah, right, well we're not all wankers here". I nearly fell over laughing.

Although my best experiences have been in Irish airports. My fellow countrypeople are very laid back

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Anonymous Coward

The queues will get horrendous

If they demand that every electronic item is powered up.

Where will they put all the people with laptops who carry a portable HDD with them while they get all the cables out and plug everything together?

What about all those USB Keys? They are electronic devices

The same goes for SD cards etc.

This is all a total waste of time. That spare bay (or even a Cd/DVD drive bay) in the laptop could contain a 'device'. The goons at Security won't know the details of each laptop and what it might contain in every nook and cranny.

In the 1980's this was tried at Geneva airport. It didn't last very long (AFAIK).

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Re: The queues will get horrendous

You've already got problems if you carry laptops or portable HDDs to the states. Not only will all your data get copied off, they may add spyware.

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Re: The queues will get horrendous

I'm already on the NSA list for reading the reg, so I'm not bothered about confessing all here, but I travel to the US regularly with a laptop, spare laptop battery (not all aircraft have in seat power), external HDD, tablet, various plugs (some aircraft do have in seat power), bluetooth headset, usb keys, micro-sd cards in my phone, etc., etc. I try not to check bags so everything has to be in hand luggage. I've never once been asked to power anything on.

The most examination I had was my electronics got swabbed for ion detection of explosives. That's by far a better way to test stuff going through than just powering it on, as the chances of you fitting explosives into your electronics without getting any on the outside is very slim. As previously noted, if everyone has to prove it by powering on, we'll all be standing in line for a very long time...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The queues will get horrendous

The queues will get horrendous if they demand that every electronic item is powered up.

The irony is that you could power them up beforehand - if the use of mobile phones in the scanning area wasn't actually forbidden.

Personally what pisses me off most is that they want you to practically take apart you and your carry-on luggage (laptops separate, keys, spare change, belt etc etc) but don't give you the space to do this. About 80% of the delay (made up statistic :) ) is spent waiting for people to re-assemble themselves post test. In some places, all you have as flat surface prior to scan is the actual Xray conveyor belt, so there is no chance to prepare much in advance and actually *help* that process along (which is in everyone's interest).

I'm OK with having to switch on gear. Not OK with having to hand off gear.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The queues will get horrendous

OH my tinfoil hat hurts,,,, I will seriously think about flying only off peak hours now...

Nah - just make sure you observe which laptops people push through scanning. If you see a few old Dells I would bail..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The queues will get horrendous

I've brought an entire max legal Carry On bag (22x14x9 inches) stuffed full of nothing but gadgets. Entertainment for 5 weeks on a tropical island. Several shortwave radios just for BBC World Service.

I hope that they don't ask me to pickup a clear shortwave signal in the depths of an airport building. What if I just happen to tune across "Radio القرآن الكريم" just at that time? Dragged outside and tasered to death?

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Facepalm

Re: The queues will get horrendous

And frankly its just made terrorism easier as they don't even need to get on the plane to have the same effect. Half a dozen deluded halfwits setting off suicide vest at the same time in the lines for security at different airports would have the same effect ie air travel being effectively shut down.

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Familiarity breeds contempt

Clearly people have become used to the usual iniquities heaped on them by the TSA and are not becoming sufficiently pissed off. So to keep the PO index up and to continue justifying their jobs they have come up with this latest 'seen to be done' exercise.

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And what about electronic items WITHOUT batteries?

I've flown several times carrying electronic devices that do not operate on batteries, such as my Acer Revo 3600 and my various games consoles (Wii, Wii U, PS2, PS3 and PS4). How will they handle those devices?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And what about electronic items WITHOUT batteries?

What about batteries?

I have a 2 hour bus trip to the airport, then a 3 hour wait at the airport and then another 3 hours of bus travel once I land in Boston. So I need to carry a booster battery for my phone.. I actually use a small power pack that can be turned on ... it has some lights on it but it could still contain more explosive than a regular mobile phone.

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Mushroom

Re: And what about electronic items WITHOUT batteries?

"What about batteries?" - but the other way round? If like AC above, you've had mucho hours on the road before the airport and your battery is genuinely dead, what then? Presumably since this is a security measure aimed at thwarting explosive devices inside, you won't be allowed to travel with it at all, which is going to lead to lots of complications, complaints and lawsuits*. Or will they have a set of power sockets for you to run off, including a multitude of adapters and power supplies?

The mind boggles - this is a REALLY bad idea. Why do they have explosive-detection kits if they're gonna introduce this BS?

*TSA don't care about Joe Citizens' laptop, but when this happens to some executive's corporate laptop stuffed to the brim with corporate scerets?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And what about electronic items WITHOUT batteries?

>"What about batteries?" -

Simple, you have to turn the device on to prove that the battery in it isn't a cunningly designed bomb which looks just like a battery. The other 2 spare batteries you are carrying can just go through the x-ray.

Of course there is no need to disguise a bomb as a Li-Ion battery when the regular Li-Ion battery contains as much explosive energy as a bomb and is much more likely to go off.

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Re: And what about electronic items WITHOUT batteries?

If it won't power up, check it in your luggage. Stuff indeed does fail and/or get broken.

Problem solved.

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Pint

Re: And what about electronic items WITHOUT batteries?

"...(...PS2...) ..."

Stuck at Heathrow Security without an NTSC TV, ...that also just happens to work on 240V/50Hz.

Just to be extra safe, they should force you to get 24,000 points on Donkey Kong before letting the Wii pass through.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: And what about electronic items WITHOUT batteries?

"check it in your luggage"...

What, so the throwers can swipe it? No thanks.

Problem not solved.

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Re: And what about electronic items WITHOUT batteries?

"If it won't power up, check it in your luggage."

I make a deliberate choice to NOT check delicate and expensive electronic devices in my luggage.

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Re: And what about electronic items WITHOUT batteries?

They'll say that you don't need it on the flight so you better put it in the hold.

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Containing little but bolts and glue

Fascinating. I never realised that bolts and glue were such a security risk.

What with the 'remove all footwear, give us a DNA sample, even if you're not actually setting foot on our sacred soil, hand over all encryption keys' and the classic holdup for a former colleague when he was held at the airport for five hours (thus missing his internal connection) because the immigration monkey refused to believe there wasn't a merkin who could do the job he'd travelled there to do, this seems like just one more reason not to travel to, or even via the US.

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Re: Containing little but bolts and glue

bolts and glue could be a test run to check if it's detected by security

prior to sending the deluded nutter through with the one containing bolts and explosive

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Re: Containing little but bolts and glue

because the immigration monkey refused to believe there wasn't a merkin who could do the job he'd travelled there to do

This has always annoyed me with work trips to US. "Hey TSA monkey (apologies for monkeys...) ...since there is a visa stamped on the passport, immigration officials above your paygrade have already deemed that I have valid reasons to travel here"

Would be easier on tourist visa...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Containing little but bolts and glue

even on a tourist visa, don't bother going via there. Treating transit passengers like criminals and being subjected to an inquisition when you're just waiting for your change of flight. I always choose my transit flights to go elsewhere

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Re: Containing little but bolts and glue

This has always annoyed me with work trips to US. "Hey TSA monkey (apologies for monkeys...) ...since there is a visa stamped on the passport, immigration officials above your paygrade have already deemed that I have valid reasons to travel here"

Would be easier on tourist visa...

Why is it you think that it's any different at Heathrow?

The "tourist visa" approach may seem tempting but is not without risk. I will leave it to you to balance the risk/reward but please be aware that if you run afoul of CBP then any future visits to the U.S. are likely to be painful, at best. If you're on B1/B2 then just be upfront about what you're doing and for how long. If it's not excessive then you should be fine (if not then please respond here)

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Joke

It's all a plot

Given that we can back our phones up to the cloud, maybe they want us to leave our phone at home and buy another one when we get there. Security as a sales tool!

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Re: It's all a plot

And every bomb will have to have a cell phone glued to it so you can get it through security. Even more sales there.

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Flame

Re: It's all a plot

Works for toothpaste, nail scissors, perfume, drinks... So why not try and make us re-buy new phones for each country?

Honestly, this is why I hate travelling to the USA. Especially being questioned by some giant thug who thinks its his job to tower over me in the most threatening manner possible whilst questioning me about who I work for and where I'm staying.

I avoid trips to the USA whenever possible. And that costs the USA more than it does me.

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Re: It's all a plot

"And every bomb will have to have a cell phone glued to it so you can get it through security. Even more sales there."

There's a potential silly OTT comedy sketch, there. Guy going through security, security spot that there's a phone in his hand luggage. They ask him to take it out and switch it on. Out it comes, attached to some sticks of dynamite. He switches it on. Security guy looks at it and says "Okay, go on through."

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