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Transportation Power Security United States

TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes 702

Trachman writes The US Transport Security Administration revealed on Sunday that enhanced security procedures on flights coming to the US now include not allowing uncharged cell phones and other devices onto planes. “During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones. Powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft. The traveler may also undergo additional screening,” TSA said in a statement.
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TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:07AM (#47398383)

    This was specifically for international flights into the US originating from certain countries, not a TSA-wide procedure.

  • That'll show 'em! (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:17AM (#47398435) Journal
    Short of 'eh, just buy a display model on ebay and pack it full of semtex, the TSA won't notice...' slacker-terrorist stuff, how useful is the 'turn it on' test?

    With the relentless demand for miniaturization and battery life, most consumer electronics should be able to get enough power to boot-and-display-innocence out of a battery pack markedly smaller than their real one, even without further clever surgery. In the case of products that have substantial spec variations available in the same chassis (like most 'workstation' laptops) or very similar ones(most cellphone flavors that have a high-end and a cheap-seats variant that share a design language, and often a number of parts), the slightly more adept attacker has even more room, literally, to build a low-drain device and its teeny battery into the chassis designed to run a fairly firebreathing set of components for a couple of hours.

    Does the TSA expect that most of their enemies are as dumb as they are, or is this a 'well, it isn't worth much; but it's easy to impose so it's probably worth what you pay...' measure?
  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:50AM (#47399109)

    This was specifically for international flights into the US originating from certain countries, not a TSA-wide procedure.

    Yet... give it a month. I know a couple of TSA people for some reason. Their IQ is slightly above your typical McDonalds worker, only because they need to know how to put on a tie. A lot of their "procedures" are only there because they heard it was a good idea on the news yesterday. Granted, I'm near Chicago so maybe they have smarter people working in the newyork airports but I doubt it.

    Keep in mind, that TSA has yet to have stopped a single bombing. The only reasons we've not had a plane go down is due to lack of effort, not any increase in security. The few attempts that have been made, made it through the TSA with ease and it was the efforts of passengers or the stupidity of the attacker that saved the plane.

    In tests, they fail to stop devices from getting on the plane pretty much every time: []

    They've no evidence that they have ever stopped anything: []

    The majority of what they catch are people trying to smuggle things they shouldn't like plants and animals or people that try to take legit firearms into the cabin when they should have put it in their luggage: []

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:13AM (#47399283)

    Wealth and power breed a sense of entitlement: []

    It's human nature. That's why people in positions of power should be required to follow a strict set of guidelines rather than apply them arbitrarily to whomever they seem to think deserves scrutiny. "Gut feelings" don't work. The people trying to get stuff on planes know this, and know to be cooperative and smile. The guy waring the "Don't tread of me" tshirt, refusing to be strip searched, may be a jerk... but he's not trying to hurt anyone.

  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:48AM (#47399565)
    The point of airport security isn't to stop terrorists. It's to calm and reassure the public. After every major airliner accident, there's a drop in airline travel. (Least there was back when we'd have 2-3 commercial airliner crashes a year. We're now to the point where it's so safe we go 2-5 years between accidents.) How do you think these people are traveling if they're too scared to fly? Some of them just stay home, but most of them travel by car. Where they are more likely to die in a car accident than from a terrorist attack.

    So the point of airport security is literally security theater. Show the public, "Hey we're doing something to stop those terrorists, so it's safe to fly!" When the real goal is to stop people from getting themselves killed while driving because they're too scared of terrorists to fly.

    Unfortunately, the people running the TSA never got the memo and are taking their jobs way too seriously.

    That said, every time I've had a phone or laptop die from a drained battery, I've been able to turn it on, and it'll power up for at least 5-30 seconds before sensing the low battery and automatically powering off again. This is due to an intentional safety feature of Li-ion batteries - if you drain them too much, they can explode when charged. So devices are designed to shut off long before the battery reaches this point, and consequently there's always enough juice left to briefly turn the device back on again. The only way you can get to a state where the device literally will not power on is if you drain the battery, then let the device sit there for weeks or months so that it self-discharges below the voltage where the device will refuse to use the battery at all. So the guy whose phone dies while traveling shouldn't be affected by this policy change at all (unless the TSA decides to be assholes and require you to demonstrate something more than the phone booting, while not providing a standard microUSB charger).
  • by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @12:53PM (#47400645)

    I've wondered why they haven't done that before. Forget about taking a plane down, or flying into a building.

    Have 20 individuals at 20 airports all approach the processing line, timed to arrive at the metal detector/x-ray chute at noon. Scream the usual "aloha cracker" (or whatever those crazy fucks say), pull out the bomb from their carry on, and detonate it before anyone can stop them.

    Instantly, every airport is notified about this threat, and now everyone gets screened before they even get to the airport.

    If they want to fuck with the west, that is how they could do it.

  • A family acquaintance - let's call him "Joe" - worked as an airport screener. This is a true story: I was personally in the room when Joe was complaining to my dad that he'd been fired.

    They run periodic checks where an undercover agent tries to smuggle contraband onto a plane. When questioned after the fact, Joe didn't understand why everyone was upset that he'd allowed a disassembled rifle through screening: "but it was in pieces! He couldn't have done anything with it!". "But Joe, he could've taken it into a bathroom and put it together, couldn't he?", followed by an expression of horror creeping across his face as the realization sank in.

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. -- Thomas Edison