TSA requires travelers overseas to power on cell phones (poll)

Spc. John Rivera from 40th Special Troop Brigade, foreground; Spc. Gabriel Gambone from the 670th Military Police Company, background; and another California National Guardsman work side by side with officials from the Transportation Security Administration at San Diego International Airport to enforce airport security. (Photo by Cherie Thurlby)

ATLANTA, July 8, 2014 — The Transportation Security Administration is requiring travelers “at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States” to power on mobile devices before boarding an aircraft.

If a device doesn’t power up, travelers will have to leave it behind and face additional screening from airport security.

While the agency didn’t name a specific reason for the change, various news reports indicate turmoil in Syria and Iraq led authorities to mandate that travelers turn on mobile devices, including cell phones and tablets, before boarding an aircraft. According to ABC News, security officials are worried terrorists could hide bombs in cell phones.

“As the traveling public knows, all electronic devices are screened by security officers,” the TSA said in a news release. “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.”

The agency added it “will continue to adjust security measures to ensure that travelers are guaranteed the highest levels of aviation security conducted as conveniently as possible.”

The federal agency did not specify which overseas airports are on the list. According to Fox News, authorities in the United Kingdom said they too are increasing security measures.

“We will work to ensure these necessary steps pose as few disruptions to travelers as possible,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. “…Aviation security includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by an evolving environment. As always, we will continue to adjust security measures to promote aviation security without unnecessary disruptions to the traveling public.”

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