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Transportation United States Wireless Networking

TSA Bans Toner and Ink Cartridges On Planes 633

Posted by Soulskill
from the there-goes-hp's-exploding-printer-product-line dept.
Grond writes "The US has banned toner and ink cartridges from passenger aircraft in the wake of last month's bomb plot. 'The printer cartridge ban affects cartridges over 16 ounces.' No word yet on whether that's a weight or volume measurement or whether it's a per-cartridge or per-passenger limit." The ban comes alongside a prohibition on air cargo originating from Yemen and Somalia. Bruce Schneier's blog points out another potential consequence from the recent bomb plot: the end of in-flight Wi-Fi.
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TSA Bans Toner and Ink Cartridges On Planes

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  • by BWJones (18351) * on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:07PM (#34165126) Homepage Journal

    Nice. Its disturbing to see that the TSA is still behind the curve. Honestly, I am surprised that TSA did not ban underpants after the last idiot that tried to smuggle a bomb in his shorts and if they ban Wi-Fi., that is the only thing that makes cross country flights tolerable these days, especially in coach.

    What is it going to take for us to realize that the TSA is simply not effective? All this reactionary effort is not helping us to be competitive in the business space and the costs are not insubstantial. My last flight on Thursday to San Jose got me a grope by the TSA agents who now apparently are permitted to do full on frisk-downs. What's next, squat and cough?

    • by kimvette (919543)

      My solution is to drive. :-)

    • by jmauro (32523) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:15PM (#34165284)

      They're not going to ban WiFi. The airlines make too much money from it and will raise a storm if it goes away. The airlines only have a certian level of tolerance for these things, especially if it costs them money and inconviences business travellers.

      The TSA is however quite effective. It's one of the more creative, pervasive, improve theatre groups that ever put to the non-traditional stage.

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:18PM (#34165336)
        The airlines lose money with every new silly TSA regulation because it makes it more and more unpleasant to fly. Because of this, airlines have to cut costs to remain profitable which results in worse service which results in less people wanting to fly then the TSA comes up with a silly new regulation which makes it even more unpleasant to fly, and it goes on and on.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:25PM (#34165502)
          Look at the positive end result, though: Eventually flights will be so expensive and unpleasant that only terrorists will fly on them, and then we can simply reroute all flights to go to a federal prison or internment camp.
          • by Paracelcus (151056) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:34PM (#34166522) Journal

            Yeah, I really HATE flying these days, my lady friend badgered and bullied me into taking a trip with her to Hawaii (I REALLY HATE HAWAII) I was taken by wheelchair to the security area where I was frisked, wiped with swabs (they even wiped the airports own wheelchair) before being pushed the rest of the way to the gate. On my return flight it was the same, they even opened my suitcase and left a card inside saying they had done so!

            OK, a 68 year old white American disabled Vietnam Vet, with a 50 year old Hawaiian wife, traveling on a domestic flight has to go through all this BULLSHIT, while everybody knows that TERRORISTS aren't elderly white cripples!

            Kinda makes you think that they really don't want people to travel by air, don't it?

            • by Compaqt (1758360) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:40PM (#34166632) Homepage

              >OK, a 68 year old white American disabled Vietnam Vet,

              Yeah, right, we all know you're a 20-year old Asian guy with a Mission Impossible mask [slashdot.org].

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              I have a higher security clearance than the guards who are checking me out. Come on guys, [agency] was checking me out for [x] months. They talked to my neighbours and landlords and every employer I've had for the last [x] years. You're looking at my laundry.

              If brains were explosives, they couldn't blow their nose.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by pspahn (1175617)

              Can't seem to find the article, but I recall an elderly lady in a wheelchair in Cheyenne that was searched by TSA and she had copius amounts of ganja (or maybe something else, don't recall) stuffed inside her chair.

              Thank you for your service to our country, but I'm sorry, don't expect any sympathy or exemptions just because you were uncomfortable with the screening process. We're all in the same boat.

    • by Shakrai (717556) * on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:17PM (#34165330) Journal

      My last flight on Thursday to San Jose got me a grope by the TSA agents who now apparently are permitted to do full on frisk-downs

      They weren't allowed to do that until the full body scanners came into the scene. Now they are doing that to the people who opt-out, presumably on the theory that by making the opt-out extremely unpleasant they can discourage people from exercising it.

      Personally, if I'm ever forced to fly again (+1 on the suggestion to just drive) I plan on raising my voice a few octaves, adding a lisp and doing my best Mr. Slave impression. "Oh, Jesus, Jesus Christ!"

  • by Anonymous Coward

    /popcorn

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:10PM (#34165172)

    If it makes you feel better, you can keep playing this game. Or, alternatively, you could just man-up and accept that there will be some risks if you don't live in a shell and let yourself be terrorized.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by hedwards (940851)
      You're solution involves people growing a spine and/or recognizing reality. Which judging from the fact that the voters decided to promote bipartisanship by giving the GOP a majority in the house is pretty clearly out of the question.
    • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:17PM (#34166278) Journal

      If it makes you feel better, you can keep playing this game. Or, alternatively, you could just man-up and accept that there will be some risks if you don't live in a shell and let yourself be terrorized.

      I think most (not all, just most) people accept that. I think even most government officials accept that. What nobody accepts is the blame they would get if something goes wrong and they didn't do as much as they possibly could to appear to have tried to prevent that. That's what's driving all this: people in positions of responsibility have an extremely high incentive to propose anything they can think of to reduce their exposure to risk, even if what they're proposing is unethical, immoral, and unconstitutional, because it's what stands between their current lives and being on the front page when the next nogoodnik blows something up. They, individually, see an extremely small cost to reducing our civil liberties compared to the benefit they get from doing so, and as such it is an entirely rational behavior for them to try to pass laws and regulations against everything. So how do we, as a culture, try to fix this?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cowboy76Spain (815442)

      If it makes you feel better, you can keep playing this game. Or, alternatively, you could just man-up and accept that there will be some risks if you don't live in a shell and let yourself be terrorized.

      While I generally agree with this, I would like to reflect about how difficult is to find the middle ground... From the Wi-Fi article (emphasis mine):

      These systems would mean that passengers would no longer need to illicitly use their cellphones when they come into range of ground masts at low altitudes near airports – a potentially dangerous activity that could interfere with the aircraft's avionics

      I mean, WTF? WHO IN THE HELL NEEDS TO USE A CELL PHONE IN A PLANE? Anyone who breaches air security rules because he can't stand a few hours without phone or internet is sick or a moron, or both. Ok, if you can have it, you may enjoy it more than reading, watching a film, sleeping or just thinking. If it is safely available and you don't disturb me, enjoy it.

  • by kimvette (919543) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:10PM (#34165176) Homepage Journal

    Oh good! I was wondering when the season premier for Homeland Security Theater was going to be broadcast. This is yet!

    In this episode, the knee-jerk reaction is to ban toner and ink cartridges, because like bottled water and cola, some Macgyver type will be able to whip together a fusion bomb in those few hours of flying, without anyone noticing!

    Yet another ban for show rather than actual security. How about, gee, I dunno, profiling passengers? You know, be politically incorrect and actually practice forensic science for a change, and stop harassing and inconveniencing the rest of us?

    • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:22PM (#34165450) Journal

      How about, gee, I dunno, profiling passengers? You know, be politically incorrect and actually practice forensic science for a change, and stop harassing and inconveniencing the rest of us?

      This would work up until the point terrorists realize they should recruit suicide bombers who don't fit the profile of a terrorist. Actually, indications are that they've already started to do so.

      Of course, the TSA can make airplanes more secure by simply expanding the profile to all humans in general. Then you'll have absolute security - sure it's useless, but it'll be secure.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      How about, gee, I dunno, profiling passengers?

      How about, gee, I dunno, accepting that terrorists are going to do shitty things, like blow up planes, blow up cars, etc? Then terrorists' main weapon, terror (and its cousin, irrational fear), will be gone. Sure, that'll just mean terrorists will try to come up with different things to terrorize people.

      But, it's the same thing with shock jocks, blathering political pundits, more "extreme" violent films and sexualized porn, etc: if you stop reacting, you'll s

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Adrian Lopez (2615)

      Yet another ban for show rather than actual security. How about, gee, I dunno, profiling passengers? You know, be politically incorrect and actually practice forensic science for a change, and stop harassing and inconveniencing the rest of us?

      Profiling passengers doesn't work, either: most of the passengers who fit broad profiles (like race) are perfectly innocent, and focusing on those passengers means focusing less on the rest, creating potential holes in your security.

    • by pz (113803) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:22PM (#34166354) Journal

      Oh good! I was wondering when the season premier for Homeland Security Theater was going to be broadcast. This is yet!

      In this episode, the knee-jerk reaction is to ban toner and ink cartridges, because like bottled water and cola, some Macgyver type will be able to whip together a fusion bomb in those few hours of flying, without anyone noticing!

      Yet another ban for show rather than actual security. How about, gee, I dunno, profiling passengers? You know, be politically incorrect and actually practice forensic science for a change, and stop harassing and inconveniencing the rest of us?

      Israel security is serious security, and not theatre, because it concentrates on the passenger, and not their belongings. When a simple pen can be wielded as a weapon in the right hands (or part of a set of eyeglasses, for that matter, or a screwdriver, or a knife from first class sharpened with a completely inconspicuous sharpening stone) it becomes clear that the belongings carried with a person do not matter nearly as much as the person and their intent. Reading intent can be done. The Israelis do it very, very well. Exceedingly well, actually, as anyone who has flown out of Tel Aviv can relate, especially if they were paying attention.

      I am a scientist, one of the very few professions accorded a kind of informal diplomatic special status (when two states are leaning toward establishing diplomatic ties, they typically start with artistic and scientific exchanges). I was given what felt like the third degree when leaving Tel Aviv:

          "Why were you in Israel?"
              "I am a scientist, and I was invited to give a lecture."
          (looking me up and down:) "You were invited to give a lecture?"
              "Yes."
          (icy tone) "Why would they invite *you*?"
              "Because there was an international seminar in my field, and I do good work."
          (continued icily) "Oh, really. Do you have a letter of invitation?"
              "Yes, here it is."
          "Do you have the program from the seminar?"
              "Yes, here."
          (getting accusitive) "Why can't I find your name?"
              "Um, it's ... just a mintute ... here it is."
          "What was the topic of your lecture?"
              "Computational Neuroscience."
          (pointedly) "Please give us the lecture."
              "I'm sorry, what?"
          (same inflection) "Please give us the lecture."
              "OK... " (I start the lecture and am allowed to get quite a few sentences in to it before I'm stopped; they were in fact paying attention to what I was saying, although not distinctly interested in the content.)
          "Where did you pack your bags?"

      and so on for ten minutes. They wanted to know where I stayed, how I knew about that particular hotel, where I went during my free time, etc. When speaking with other travellers, I've since learned that's pretty standard. Did you notice above when I wrote about paying attention? There were two interrogators performing the interview for each passenger. One doing the talking, and one observing. The one talking said that she was a trainee, and that's why there were two. I've since learned that's standard operating procedure: it works to make the interviewee think of the interviewer in sympathetic light. Damned skilled.

      That, my friends, is security. Banning containers of liquid or gel larger than 125 mL isn't. Hiding one's thoughts from skilled interrogation is much, much harder to do than hiding physical contraband.

  • We've Lost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by svendsen (1029716) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:12PM (#34165202)
    The terrorists really did win...
  • I fly all over the country bringing toner cartridges and Ink refills to needy executives all over the world...

    See terrorists... you make baby Muhammed Cry!

  • Clearly.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:14PM (#34165262)
    Clearly the answer is to ban the thing the bomb came in and search those things because we all know that everything is going to be the exact same and its going to make us be safer! Whats next? Someone tries to put some explosives in gum therefore we ban gum while ignoring everything else?

    Its becoming increasingly obvious that the TSA is designed to cripple airlines, make comfortable travel nearly impossible, violate privacy all the while doing nothing to stop a real terrorist plot.
  • by Grond (15515) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:16PM (#34165310) Homepage

    The official announcement is still light on details, but the ban will apply to both carry-on and checked luggage and will affect "domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States." Apparently ink and toner will still be allowed on flights out-bound from the United States.

    The distinction between domestic flights and out-bound international flights makes no sense to me. If someone can target a domestic flight by assembling the toner-bomb in the US, why couldn't the same person target an international flight out-bound from the US?

    Furthermore, is there any evidence that a toner cartridge and printer were selected for any particular reason? Is there any reason toner cartridges make for a particularly attractive bomb container? If not, this seems worse than useless, since an attacker would simply select a different container while the screeners are busy looking for toner cartridges.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jonbryce (703250)

      If you want something with powder and some electronic circuits that looks "normal" to the airport security guy, then a toner cartridge is a perfect choice.

    • by noidentity (188756) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:12PM (#34166222)

      Apparently ink and toner will still be allowed on flights out-bound from the United States. The distinction between domestic flights and out-bound international flights makes no sense to me. If someone can target a domestic flight by assembling the toner-bomb in the US, why couldn't the same person target an international flight out-bound from the US?

      Good point; I'm sure they'll see the error of their ways if you explain that at the airport [xkcd.com].

  • by xanthines-R-yummy (635710) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:20PM (#34165384) Homepage Journal
    The terrorists keep winning. I'm pretty sure we've done just about all we can do to protect ourselves without severely impeding our basic rights. Locking the cockpit with a bullet-resistant door and only allowing passengers to the gate (after screening) ensures we'll never have a 9/11-type attack again. Everything else is just really making flying annoying and more and more cost/time prohibitive. Basically, they keep winning despite not killing anyone.
    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:30PM (#34165568)

      It's not diminishing returns for TSA though. Every time a terrorist plot is uncovered they need to do -something- to make it look like they're doing something real. The reality is that if someone is determined enough and not a goddamn idiot, they are going to be able to bring down a plane. Fortunately, the terrorists are idiots for now, but if most people realized how ineffective TSA was, we'd cut their funding dramatically and fire most of them.

      Security theater actually works quite well for the actors and a gullible audience, though it does very little towards actually security.

    • by sconeu (64226) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:46PM (#34165840) Homepage Journal

      only allowing passengers to the gate (after screening) ensures we'll never have a 9/11-type attack again

      Why does this enhance security? All the 9/11 guys had valid tickets and boarding passes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Virtucon (127420)

        And box cutters...
        And flight training where they were only interested in flying the plane and navigation, not takeoff and landing....

        and...

        Look, your chances of having a Trent 900 engine blowing up on you are greater than experiencing a Terrorist event... ;-)

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:22PM (#34165436) Homepage Journal
    I thought the bombs were on cargo/commercial (FedEx or UPS) planes, not passenger aircraft. If so, why are we (again) punishing the passengers for no apparent reason? Haven't we annoyed and inconvenienced the flying public enough already?
  • It gets worse (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:22PM (#34165446) Homepage

    I'm far more concerned about TSA's new pat-down procedure [crunchgear.com] than I am about not being allowed to bring toner with me on a plane. Not that the ink/toner cartridge ban makes much sense, but how often do you bring printer supplies with you on a plane?

  • TSA Security Theater (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:24PM (#34165490)
    As someone who has worked in the world's busiest airport during the world's busiest travel times over the past 5 years, every time I see the TSA ban stuff like this or add a new level of security it just makes me shake my head. You know the old saying about locking the barn door after the horse escapes? That doesn't fully capture it. This is more like locking the barn door after the horse escapes through the giant fucking hole in the middle of the barn wall. It does nothing to help what already happened and isn't going to solve the original problem at all.
  • by alvinrod (889928) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:25PM (#34165500)
    Let's just cut to the chase and ban people from airplanes. Every single terrorist plot involving hijacking or detonating an explosive aboard an airplane involved at least one person. By completely banning people from flights, it will make air travel completely safe. This has the added benefit of allowing the TSA enough time to give everyone a full-cavity search since they no longer have to worry about being able to depart on time. After all, you never know where those terrorists might hide their explosives. Of course to do all of this in a timely manner, we'll need to double the number of TSA security personnel, but it's probably worth the extra hundred dollars just to know that the flight you can't take is completely safe from terrorists. Can't put a price on piece of mind after all.
  • by gilgongo (57446) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:26PM (#34165528) Homepage Journal

    What I don't understand about the screaming to ban deadly packages flying by air mail is that for literally 100 YEARS letter bombs have been on the scene. I myself was in Washington DC in about 1975 when a letter bomb posted by the IRA was delivered to the British Embassy. It blew the hand off a secretary who opened it up. Yes, there was an investigation, the police were called, the IRA condemned etc. etc. but nobody suggested banning packages in the mail or removing the rights of anyone who went into a post office. Heck, these devices from Yemen didn't even explode and we're falling apart with fear!

    What the hell is going on? Why has the US become a nation of panty-wetting idiots?

    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:46PM (#34165844) Journal

      Because people are fundamentally unforgivable cowards, and much worse, so goddamned gullible that they actually believe the government can keep them safe in the absolute or near-absolute sense of the word. We in the West all talk the Big Talk about how liberty is worth the risks (and indeed, even at this time of year in many places recount how hundreds of thousands of soldiers went off to fight a couple of world wars to stop totalitarian regimes from making us all Very Safe), but no one really means it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Andy Dodd (701)

      Well, at least to the credit of those trying to protect air travel - It takes a lot less effort to severely damage an airplane at altitude (thanks to the stresses of a pressurized cabin) to the point where it will not fly than it does to damage a ship or train to the point where it causes massive loss of life. (Although due to derailment, a train is probably easier.)

      So a small bomb can take down a plane, but can't necessarily take out a ship or train, especially if in a cargo area.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JamesVI (1548945)

      Why has the US become a nation of panty-wetting idiots?

      People are making a lot of money off the fear industry. Chertoff, the former head of Homland Security, is a consultant for one or more of the companies that make the bomb detection and body scanning equipment that the TSA is mandating be used

    • Why has the US become a nation of panty-wetting idiots?

      Yes. It's a consequence of the way we've been brought up, protected from everything bad and even bad thoughts, so once something does actually enter our consciousness it consumes everything. Like someone who's lived in a bubble away from all germs all of a sudden meeting the common cold.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blind biker (1066130)

      I agree with most of your sentiment, but let's not forget that these bombs were defused minutes before going off, only thanks to a tip-off by a repentant Al-Qaida operative. And each of these devices had enough explosive to significantly damage the fuselage of the aircraft. This one was a close, scary shave.

  • I want to know... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:31PM (#34165594) Journal
    how they did it. I work with diesel fuel systems. If I need to send a failed fuel pump back to the factory in Germany, it has to go by boat. The tiny amount of fuel still left in the pump after it is cleaned will get detected, and I will get a friendly visit from law enforcement if I try to send it by plane.
    • Re:I want to know... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Ogi_UnixNut (916982) on Monday November 08, 2010 @06:35PM (#34167412) Homepage

      They used one of the component explosive (PETN) in SEMTEX [wikipedia.org].

      Developed in the USSR, SEMTEX was seen as highly dangerous (and liked by terrorists) because it nearly impossible to detect. So hard to detect, that nowadays SEMTEX actually has stuff added to it so it can be detected more easily and it's export and use is highly restricted (presumably why these guys decided not to actually use modern SEMTEX).

      Fuel gives off a very strong smell, making it trivial to detect :P

  • Luckily (Score:5, Funny)

    by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday November 08, 2010 @04:48PM (#34165876)

    out of the millions of objects and packages people make and use, printer cartidges are the only ones of the right shape and size to hold explosives.

  • Logic. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pclminion (145572) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:00PM (#34166056)

    Terrorist: "Well, I had this fancy bomb all put together and I was ready to blow myself and 200 other people out of the sky, but then the damned TSA went and made it illegal to do that. Since I have an instinctive need to obey the laws of the infidels, I suppose my plan is right out the window. Oh well. I guess I'll just walk down to the donut shop and gorge myself. Maybe I'll take up farming. Fava beans, anyone?"

  • by Jason Levine (196982) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:11PM (#34166206)

    Obviously, these toner cartridges were packed in some sort of suitcase. Imagine that, a closed case on a plane that a terrorist could use to put any kind of horrible device. The only logical reaction is to ban all suitcases. This should also apply to duffle bags, backpacks and other forms of closed containers. Travellers will be encouraged to carry their clothes in big piles to the check in area where they will be looked through (and any funny underwear will be lifted up high for everyone to laugh at). Then, the whole pile will be shovelled onto the airplane. Luggage pickup areas will now have a dump truck back up to them and dump the cargo bin's contents onto the ground for traveller's to fight through. Make sure you write your name and address in big letters all over every piece of clothing in permanent ink. And remember, it might be a minor inconvinience but this and other measures like the upcoming "automatic strip searching for hot passengers" rule help keep the skies safe from terrorists.

  • by moxley (895517) on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:22PM (#34166372)

    This is so stupid.

    More security theatre. I think the real terrorists work in DC.

  • by SirLanse (625210) <swwg69@yahoPOLLOCKo.com minus painter> on Monday November 08, 2010 @05:35PM (#34166556)
    I was going to have a few drinks and go throught the TSA lines a few times. The only problem is the airport has a no smoking policy. I would need a cigarette after the frisking. :)
  • After reading this; (Score:5, Informative)

    by ameline (771895) <ian...ameline@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 08, 2010 @06:02PM (#34166946) Homepage Journal

    http://www.npr.org/assets/news/2010/05/17/concern.pdf [npr.org]

    I am not going to go through one of those machines.

    VERY scary stuff here.....

  • by fpp (614761) on Monday November 08, 2010 @09:05PM (#34168712)
    ...some explosives inside an annoying crying baby, then they'd ban them.

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