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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 Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:09AM (#47398391)

    If you can't power the things up there is no way to tell what they actually are.

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:12AM (#47398401) Homepage Journal

    If you can't power the things up there is no way to tell what they actually are.

    If the TSA worked for us, they'd have a power supply at the checkpoint so you can prove that your device works even if the battery is dead.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:18AM (#47398439)

    Because they use cell phone signals to send drones to kill people! If you turn it on when they ask they know the signature belongs to you. Just don't bring a phone on a plane and use a disposable one when you land. Airports like Toronto record all cell phone traffic and network traffic in the airport area and forward it to the USA anyways.

  • by jeIIomizer ( 3670945 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:26AM (#47398487)

    The TSA cannot work for us, because their existence violates the highest law of the land. Slightly 'improving' the situation would never change that simple fact.

  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <> on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:27AM (#47398495) Homepage

    Right because having your fucking phone die at the airport isn't inconvenient enough; you clearly are not having a bad enough day that you can't easily call people when you reach your destination, or get notices about flight delays on your way to the you need to lose your battery too! Another $50 on your trip asshole for doing something boneheaded that only ever was a problem for you before now.

    Certainly there are so vanishingly few legitimate reasons a persons phone would be discharged.... that there wont be too many false positives with this....never. I am sure they will mostly only inconvinence terrorists, and not, so many people as to justify maybe....a full time position or two at each airport.

  • by Stargoat ( 658863 ) <> on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:28AM (#47398507) Journal

    Yeah. That flag pretty much no longer flies over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    Last time I went into a court house, I was required to remove my belt. Somehow, the US made it through a foreign invasion, a Civil War, WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and absolutely massive social upheaval without requiring people to remove clothing to enter into courts of law. But a few jackasses drive airplanes into some buildings and it's goodbye liberty, hello 'safety'. This 100% safe nonsense is destroying the Republic. We are less safe than ever and we have done it to ourselves. Government is the problem with our security, not to the solution to it

  • by magamiako1 ( 1026318 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:29AM (#47398519)
    As another poster stated, this is only on certain international flights originating from certain countries--and in addition to that, I'm sure you can power your phone off once you've powered it on for them.

    While this could be for another form of 'tracking' with cell phone tracking technologies (which exist), I feel it would be impossible to know just from cell phone identification what a person intends to do.

    So I suspect it's nothing more than "Ensure that the phone is not a bomb in disguise".
  • My question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:33AM (#47398537) Journal

    In theory if you can't get through the security check you are allowed to leave with your property. In practice people have been prevented from doing so.

    If someone does arrive at the security checkpoint with a $600 dollar tablet that happens to have a dead battery, for their $130 flight is the TSA going to let them just leave?

  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <> on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:36AM (#47398561) Homepage

    > Does the TSA expect that most of their enemies are as dumb as they are

    No, they expect the public will not listen to their enemies about how stupid it all is. They are not worried about their enemies because they already won and the public will fund whatever staffing levels they can justify.

    To think that the TSAs real enemies are terrorists is laughable, they are a theater troupe doing security plays. Their enemy is the guy calling them out for being actors.

  • by janoc ( 699997 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:38AM (#47398571)

    I do wonder how this is going to stop someone from smuggling an explosive on board. It is vastly easier to conceal some nasty payload inside of a bulky laptop than inside of a battery. And it could still even work as a laptop - a brick of a plastic explosive the size of a disk drive or a secondary battery would be enough to cause a huge problem on board, without preventing the laptop from booting up and working.

    And that is still assuming someone would actually want to bother with this - the guy with explosive underpants certainly didn't need a working battery ...

    Mind boggling stupidity.

  • by bickerdyke ( 670000 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:45AM (#47398623)

    50$? Wait.. you're assuming that you can remove the battery from your phone, right?

    That's a good one.

    REALLY inconvinient if you have an iPhone....

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @08:50AM (#47398671)

    Certainly there are so vanishingly few legitimate reasons a persons phone would be discharged...

    Certainly there are far fewer reasons a person would want to go to the USA anymore. Or, rather, people value their dignity more than US culture; That you continue to have a tourism industry is beyond belief. Further, with Germany setting the standard for tearing US businesses out of their public infrastructure [] I'd be surprised if the US continues be a player in international business for much longer.

    Anyway, to answer your question about why my phone would be discharged, it's because I'm forced to wait for three hours in the damn departure lounge because getting through security takes an age. I pass the time by browsing the internet, listening to music, watching streaming video... On my phone.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:04AM (#47398779) Journal
    What I find curious (honestly, both from the TSA's side, and from the terrorists' side, to the degree that they aren't simply far less common than popularly believed), is how dead-set everyone is on fighting the 'last war' so to speak.

    Given the (mostly low-lethality, albeit with occasional exceptions that really sucked for a specific hostage) history of aircraft hijacking [], being the first to radically change the game before anybody knew that the game had changed (strictly speaking, the attempt occurred across 3 planes simultaneously; but with limited cross-communication, each was essentially 'first' for the purposes of that aircraft, and the one where that information isolation broke down was the one that was forcibly crash-landed and never made it to target) was a ruthless and clever move. The historical rule had always been 'Hijacking, that sucks; but within a few days, and with the death of very few passengers, the matter will be wrapped up', and so heroics simply didn't make much sense.

    Now that everyone knows that that isn't the case, you pretty much have to be confident that you have the manpower to overwhelm an entire aircraft full of people who expect you to kill them even if they do cooperate, as well as national air-defense assets that expect you to kill everyone, and worse, if they don't shoot you down. Aircraft are now largely targets that are only as useful as their direct destruction is.

    Given that, it's downright weird that both the TSA, and at least the dumber terrorist types, have remained fixated on airplanes, despite the fact that there are far softer targets, vastly more numerous and harder to secure, all over the place. At this point, hitting a TSA security line, rather than trying to pass through it, or just skipping that entirely and turning a good, honest, domestically available, AR-15 on a little-league crowd somewhere in Iowa would be at least as scary and way easier...
  • by VernonNemitz ( 581327 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:20AM (#47398903) Journal
    The TSA is probably thinking that if the battery in your gadget doesn't work, it might not actually be a, just to be on the safe side....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:24AM (#47398931)

    Terrorists downed a Malaysian Airlines flight just a few months ago. Clearly planes are still a target. Getting into the cabin or ramming a prominent landmark might have become more difficult in the wake of 9/11, but killing the couple of hundred people on the plane remains an attractive option for terrorist groups.

  • by brunes69 ( 86786 ) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:36AM (#47399013) Homepage

    "Now, a successful terrorist must spend an extra $100 on parts and 100 hours on hardware modifications, while still spending the time and money to jump through every other hurdle in the way."

    "... the point is to raise the difficulty high enough that the attack isn't worth the hassle."

    If you stop and think about these statements you will see how stupid they are. Such statements make sense when the motive is financial and the prospect of fines or incarceration is a deterrent. Or when such people are not extremely well financed. None of these things apply here. If you are an extremest who plans to kill yourself while blowing up an airplane, there is no point at which you stop and say "awww screw this, it's not worth the hassle". And most of these guys are backed by people will millions in the bank.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 07, 2014 @09:43AM (#47399039)

    Typically after the security checkpoint..

  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:27AM (#47399421) Journal

    First world problems.

    Since when is having an overbearing and corrupt government, and especially it's petty and beaurocratic employees given a sniff of power, making its citizens lives a misery and stealing their stuff a first world problem?

    At least in a 3rd world country, you could bribe the gits into giving your cellphone back. Here they get to keep it (If you don't believe that the TSA employees won't all mysteriously end up with shiny iPhones, then I have a bridge to sell you) and there's fuck all you can do.

    Sure it is a stupid rule. But the anger over the current state when you alone are at fault is staggering.

    It's a stupid rule yet the victim of it is at fault?

    This is a classic case of blaming the victim.

    No, the rule is idiotic and this is firmly the fault of the administration at the TSA.

  • by dak664 ( 1992350 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @10:54AM (#47399639) Journal

    Such a bomb could well house a small battery for detonation, big enough to also power the device for a short time for the trigger swipe. Rejecting devices that don't work is absolute insanity.

  • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @11:08AM (#47399757) Journal

    Actually, if you're a REALLY dedicated terrorist, replace all the cells with explosives triggered by the power switch. Kill everyone in a 10-meter radius in the security checkpoint at the specific command of the TSA agent, and make sure the post-event propaganda plays that up.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @11:28AM (#47399901)

    Their IQ is slightly above your typical McDonalds worker, only because they need to know how to put on a tie

    Oh c'mon, figuring out how to use a clip doesn't take that much extra IQ

    You've clearly never worked at McDonalds. I worked the grill in college. They walked me back to the grill, said "you're the cook" and walked away. The instructions are large pictograms hung in front of the grill. You could literally not be able to read, be color blind and only able to see 3 feet in front of your face and still do that job. It's amazing how well they have that procedure designed that anyone could do it.

  • by Wycliffe ( 116160 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @12:03PM (#47400195) Homepage

    The first flight I took after 9/11 I remember seeing postal boxes where you could mail confiscated items back to
    yourself if you accidently brought something that wasn't allowed. Sadly I haven't seen these in recent flights.
    The TSA should be required to mail high value items back to you and should destroy (not resell) other confiscated

  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @12:29PM (#47400425)

    It's not insanity - it's all about reducing risk.

    Think in terms of Venn diagrams: start with "people who want to blow up an airplane". Now add "people who can build an airplane-destroying device into an iPhone". Now draw the circle for "people who can make the device still appear to function while also containing the airplane-destroying device". Now add "operatives smart and poised enough to carry out the attack but willing to kill themselves in the process". The intersection keeps getting smaller and smaller.

    You don't need to make everything impossible - you just need to make it very unlikely. For reasons that we don't need to agree upon or nail down in this discussion, aircraft are very attractive targets. Successful (and even unsuccessful) attacks are major news events. There is nothing "insane" about recognizing and reacting to this reality.

  • by PRMan ( 959735 ) on Monday July 07, 2014 @12:54PM (#47400657)
    Because inevitably if you travel for any extended length of time your battery WILL be dead. Now visitors to our country start by throwing away their PHONE? Yeah, that's going to encourage tourism...
  • So putting "non-existent" as a criteria means that you will always fail.

    That is exactly my point. Security does not have to be perfect to be valuable.

    And you will never know if the money being spent is not being wasted because there incidents are so rare already.

    There are many places where traditional methods of statistical research will fail. This is one of them. Instead we have to learn from our experience. For instance: some incompetent people were recruited to light bombs in their shoes - now shoes go through the x-ray machine. People found a way to mix the explosives behind security - now we can't have substantial amounts of liquids. People hijacked airliners with box cutters - now we have reinforced doors and pocket knife restrictions.

    Now I'll concede that it is entirely possible that this latest regulation is based upon some scenario in some bureaucrat's mind. It is also possible that, like the liquids regulation, it is done for a perfectly good reason. Only time will tell.

    None of the regulations you cited are actually reasonable. The vanishingly small amount of security we gained is not worth the large amount of freedom we've given up for it.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!