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TSA adopts new security measures for travelers with electronic devices

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The Transportation Security Administration announced yesterday, July 6, that new screening regulations for electronic devices have been implemented to assure items aren’t part of a terrorist bomb ploy. Some people will now be asked to power on electronic devices at screening. TSA also warned travelers if their devices are powerless at screening the device “will not be permitted onboard the aircraft.”

According to a Sunday TSA press release, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson implemented new guidelines that will heighten safety measures for new potential terrorist threats, especially for “overseas airports with direct flights to the United States.”

Furthermore, TSA’s new safety protocol states that travelers could be subject to further screening, but the details are unclear if that pertains to information gathering from the electronic devices. Johnson said, adjustments will be ongoing to ensure aviation safety without unnecessary interference to travelers, and did not clarify which specific measures could be adjusted.

But what exactly tipped off Homeland Security to further investigate electronic devices when these items already go through screening?

“There is always a threat, but the threat after all remains fairly high all over the world particularly the western countries,” Richard Barrett, a former British head of counter-terrorism, MI6 said. But these new rules are based on some information that were passed onto security agencies and so “the threat is real.” However, some people feel this could leave travelers struggling to find charging outlets before they reach the security lines. Typically access to any sort of charging station or outlet for electronic devices are available after the security lines and at airport gates. With the new security measures; passengers may need to add another reminder to their already long list of TSA security rules -- to charge their devices before they head to the airport to avoid delays.

The new regulations won’t just affect travelers but it can also “prohibit” airplanes from takeoff if airports and airlines ignore the new security rules, according to Forbes. The U.S. obtained “intelligence” there could be al Qaeda developments trying to pass bomb paraphernalia “undetected” through security checkpoints in electronics. It appears no specific threat has been announced, but that U.S. officials are taking precautions.

Last week Reuters reported that specific electronics were being scrutinized more than others, after U.S. security officials received intelligence that particular terrorist groups had plans to build explosives into electronic devices that made detection at airport security screening difficult to near impossible. TSA has not announced if the new safety rules will include screening checked bags for electronics.

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