The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), since its’ inception has changed the way Americans travel, domestically, and in some cases, abroad.
There have been a number of TSA directives of late. The one that got the most press, has been their directive on electronic devices. The other (just for reference) was TSA’s increased scrutiny for overseas flights traveling to the US. The first references the second link, which makes me wonder (1) is the electronic devices directive only for flights from overseas, and (2) is the social media / blog-sphere taking this out of proportion?
Why this is being blown out of preportion
First, I’d ask – how many of you travel with electronic devices completely drained of power? I know I’m rushing around charging things the night before. Further, even if the device doesn’t have a full charge, it has enough to demonstrate that its function.
Second, the TSA has been requiring (perhaps not as consistently of late), that laptops be proven to work since 2001. I can’t seem to find many articles on this, even though I remember being asked multiple times to demonstrate that my laptop works, when passing through security. This NY Times article speaks to that experience, its only from 2012, but, my experiences date back to 2007. There are posts to this effect dating from 2007 on forums as well. I’m sure if I had the time to research further that these policies go back further than 2007.
What this means
Obviously, you want to ensure that any electronic devices you bring with you have at least a representative charge. You’re probably doing that anyway — if not, this is a great reminder, because, a smartphone, tablet, netbook, or laptop without a charge is pretty useless.. Especially in this age of planes with wi-fi.
Further though, my opinion is: this is security theater, and the social media and blogsphere are giving into it. TSA, DHS and others have made it clear that they are concerned about overseas flights. Laptops, Tablets and Smartphones have been known to be a risk as far back as 2012 (based on the NY Times article I referenced above). I’m sure they were a risk even more so, heck, if concerning devices can be built into toner cartridges, then a laptop seems like a 3500 square foot home. Are there risks? Yes, but, really, the risks have been there for quite some time.
I don’t want to underplay concerns expressed by the US Government, but at some point, you have to ask yourself: Are we making a big deal about nothing, or is there a very real and serious concern. I can’t tell you the answer to that, but, if you are traveling with electronic devices that have dead batteries, you probably shouldn’t.