The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has enacted a new rule that will require passengers to turn on their cellphones before boarding aircrafts at certain overseas airports slated for direct flights to the U.S.
Posted in a message on the agency's website on Sunday, the new measure states that powerless devices will not be allowed on board aircrafts, and that passengers may be subject to additional screening procedures.
In its explanation of the new policy, the TSA referenced last week's message from Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, regarding enhanced security measures in the run-up to the Fourth of July holiday.
"DHS continually assesses the global threat environment and reevaluates the measures we take to promote aviation security," stated Johnson. "As part of this ongoing process,
I have directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United StatesI have directed TSA to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States."
Although Johnson's statement mentions "an evolving environment," neither his nor the TSA's policy announcement explain why, exactly, the new rule has been introduced.
However, according to a recent Reuters report, the enhanced measures are related to new concerns from U.S. security officials around the ability of terrorists to use cellphones as explosive devices. The report specifically mentions the two most popular smartphone brands: Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones.
The TSA did not detail which countries or airports the new measures are designed to monitor. Similarly, the TSA's message did not indicate whether the policy is temporary or permanent.
How TSA agents will deal with passengers carrying devices with dead batteries and no power adapter is unclear, but the dynamic could conceivably make for major delays at some airports.
Officials from the TSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tags: AIRPORT SECURITY, AIRPORTS, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY, DHS, GADGETS, GALAXY TAB, IPHONE, MOBILE, TERRORISM, TRAVEL, TRAVEL & LEISURE, TSA, U.S., WORLD